Southern 80

Police call for witnesses in sexual assault case

By Fraser Walker-Pearce

THE Victoria Police sexual crimes squad is investigating after a woman was sexually assaulted in Echuca early yesterday morning.

Police said the woman was on Goulburn Rd when the assault happened about 3.15am.

An investigation has been launched and detectives are appealing for anyone with information to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers.

Police last night were refusing to give any more details in relation to the incident.

Echuca Senior Sergeant Justin McAuley confirmed the incident had taken place but said he could not comment further.

Local officers and others posted to the twin towns for the weekend were also kept on their toes as Southern 80 fans spilled from the riverbanks to the pubs.

With about 20 arrests made across Friday and Saturday nights — the majority with alcohol involved — Snr Sgt McAuley said police were busier than usual.

He said police had been kept busy since Friday afternoon when the Southern 80 festivities began.

‘‘This year we had a fairly large contingent from Melbourne helping us out, the operations response unit as well as the mounted branch and the state highway patrol,’’ he said.

‘‘In the CBD we had roughly 20-odd arrests over the two nights, ranging from drunk and disorderly to assaults to drug possession.

‘‘There have been drink-driving charges made but we don’t know how many yet as the booze bus tends to do its own thing and report back to us later, we haven’t talked to state highway yet either, and won’t hear for a few days.’’

Away from the highway, Snr Sgt McAuley said police attended several incidents on the riverbanks, and in particular with campers involved.

‘‘There have been several minor assaults, we had to attend to one on the river, where we came across a group of unruly campers, which tends to be a common theme with the Southern 80,’’ he said.

‘‘The majority of the incidents were river-based, and with campers on the river. It’s quite common, but in recent years we have been working with Parks Victoria over the course of the day to deal with that.

‘‘We’ve also been working closely with NSW police as well, and it’s been a great effort.’’

Six people were arrested for public drunkenness including resisting arrest and disorderly behaviour overnight Saturday in Echuca.

The Victoria Police operations response team and mounted branch were active in the Echuca CBD at the weekend, with a further four underage people detected possessing alcohol underage on Saturday.

Four males were also detected urinating in the High Street Port area.

Away from the main street, a waterskier was airlifted to hospital with non-critical injuries after falling off Tantrum during the Southern 80.

Competing in the Stock 6 Litre Expert class on Sunday afternoon, the incident occurred around 1.30pm on the Murray River, near Deep Creek Marina in Perricoota.

It is not known what injuries skier Gary Croft sustained, but Moama Water Sports Club president Steve Shipp said they were not life-threatening.

“A skier came off, and it was thought best to airlift him out, rather than drive him,” Shipp said.

“He has been taken to hospital for further tests. It’s nothing major but he needed to be checked thoroughly and we didn’t want to take the road.”

Crime Stoppers can be contacted on 1800 333 000.