POLICE are hunting a machete-wielding gang who allegedly kidnapped and viciously attacked a Cromwell man in Queenstown.
The 28-year-old victim was set upon by a group, wearing balaclavas, near the Crown Range Road intersection in the early hours of Saturday morning.
During what police are calling a sustained and brutal attack he had a bladed weapon held to his throat, before being bundled into a car and kidnapped.
The gang was also armed with a meat cleaver.
The victim was later dumped in Arrowtown, suffering suspected concussion, multiple abrasions and severe bruising to his head and body.
Detective sergeant Brian Cameron says: “This was a premeditated and cowardly attack with the victim effectively ambushed and given no opportunity to defend himself.
“I would expect the community will be as shocked as police that such a violent incident should take place and will join with police in identifying these thugs and bringing them to justice.”
The man and his 23-year-old girlfriend had been encouraged to meet “a person known to him” at the intersection, with State Highway 6.
Queenstowner Rachel Maree Faul, a 20-year-old receptionist of Speargrass Flat, has been arrested and charged with aggravated wounding, kidnapping and reckless driving.
Faul has appeared this afternoon (Monday) in Queenstown District Court where she was remanded in custody without plea until Thursday while further investigations are carried out.
Police are also speaking to a second person believed to have been present at the scene.
The gang is described as all being relatively tall and slim with ‘skinhead’ style haircuts. They are all believed to be of European descent.
One of the men, who did not wear a balaclava, was wearing a black T-shirt with the word “Misfits” written across the front. He was clean shaven.
Another was wearing a red balaclava and was believed to have been carrying the meat cleaver. The other three had black balaclavas and one is believed to have had a machete.
Police recovered a yellow Toyota car, believed to have been used in the attack.
“I would urge those persons involved to get in contact with police at the first opportunity,” detective sergeant Cameron says.
“This is an extremely serious matter with the very real potential that those responsible could face lengthy terms of imprisonment on conviction.
“You will be identified. Whether that happens in the next 24 hours or the next few weeks, it would be better for you to come to police and offer what explanation you may wish regarding your involvement in this matter, than to mistakenly believe that we will not come for you.”
A white four-door car, similar to a Toyota Camry and with an emblem or sticker in the rear left passenger side window, was also seen in the area at the time.
Officers recovered items of “significant forensic value” from where the white car was parked.
Cameron stated police had been in contact with the Environmental Science and Research seeking guidance on some of the more “perplexing exhibits.”
The victim, dumped in Chartres Green, Arrowtown, spent the night in Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital for observation.
Anyone with information should call Queenstown Police on 441 1600 – or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.