News State Victoria News Police search for man who assaulted nurse in park

Police search for man who assaulted nurse in park

The man police are looking for. Photo: Victoria police
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

An off-duty nurse was viciously attacked by a muscular thug who was punching her face and “pulling at” her eyes in a Melbourne park.

The violent and random attack has police concerned about the potential for the man to do it again.

Claire Derrick, 51, was walking along Gardiners Creek Trail in Burwood about 4.10pm on Sunday when she noticed the man behaving “erratically” on the wrong side of the popular track.

“He slightly smirked at me and I thought that wasn’t right and went past him,” Ms Derrick told reporters on Thursday.

“He came up behind me and started hitting me … it was so vicious and really violent.

“He went for my eyes and was pulling at my eyes.”

The woman was thrown on the ground but tried to fight off her attacker, who was at least 188cm tall and muscular.

“I was screaming for help when two wonderful people came and pulled him off me,” Ms Derrick said.

She said her aim while under attack was not to lose consciousness.

“I remember the last two punches to my head and I thought I can’t sustain much more of this,” she said.

Ms Derrick was left with a broken nose, scratches and serious bruising and is likely to have scars on her face.

Husband shocked, but proud

Husband Darren Smethurst said he struggled to process what happened when he got to the scene.

“It’s pretty distressing,” he said. “But I’m not surprised she fought him off, I’m quite impressed.”

The young couple who intervened chased the man before returning to call emergency services.

Police are concerned that the man did not attempt to steal or ask the victim for anything and that he may attack again.

“It’s scary to speculate what might have happened,” detective senior constable Chris Coyle said.

“His motive is unclear and that’s concerning for a violent assault.”

The man is described as being of Southern European appearance, muscular, with dark hair and is approximately 188cm tall.

He was wearing a blue T-shirt, jeans and brown shoes at the time.