Attack on real estate agent prompts calls for safety standards

  • 03/08/2008

A horrific attack on a real estate agent lured to a remote Wairarapa property at the weekend has prompted calls from friends and colleagues for the industry to tighten safety standards.

The 41-year-old woman fought for her life and stabbed a man who allegedly assaulted, bound and tried to kidnap her after arranging to meet her at a house east of Carterton on Saturday morning.

A police patrol stopped a man travelling toward the Rimutaka Hill in his car two hours after the attack.

A 38-year-old Wellington man will appear in Masterton District Court today charged with kidnapping the woman.

The vendors of the house where the attack took place, who were also friends of the agent, said they hoped it would make real estate firms improve safety for their staff.

Friend and colleague Jo Wisler said the "horrific" attack would probably change the way they worked.

She praised her friend's strength. "I think she's amazing. (She) is so strong," she says.

As the alleged attacker, who was not known to the agent, tried to bundle her into the boot of his car, she grabbed a screwdriver and stabbed him in the head before escaping.

Neighbours heard her screams and came to her aid as she fled the house, beaten and bleeding.

In 2005, a real estate agent was threatened with a knife and ordered to remove her clothes while showing a man a property in Plimmerton, near Wellington.

She escaped through a window and Damon John Exley was sentenced to preventive detention the following year.

He had more than 200 convictions - including kidnapping and indecently assaulting a Blenheim real estate agent five years earlier.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand national president Murray Cleland said agents were vulnerable because of the extent of online information available about them, including their photographs and cellphone numbers.

There were no national safety guidelines in place, Mr Cleland said.

"But in light of this, I suppose we'll have to give it some consideration."

It was a good idea for agents in isolated areas to work in pairs, he said.

The victim of the latest attack was recovering at home today.

Her mother said she was "terribly impressed" with her daughter's quick thinking.

"The only thing she wanted to do as he left is to remember his registration. She kept saying it over and over and over again to herself until the neighbour arrived and she said, 'Quick, write it down'."

NZPA

source: newshub archive