THEY were young women, contract cleaners busy getting just another suburban house ready for just another tenant.
But within moments, both the 21-year-olds were unconscious on the floor of the Medowie house after being bashed by an intruder in an attack so savage it has prompted senior police to rank it as one of the worst cases they have seen.
One woman was punched with such force her frontal jaw became displaced. Also suffering fractures to the back of her jaw, she spent several hours in surgery yesterday.
Her friend had ‘‘extreme’’ facial and head injuries and police have described the crime scene as something usually only seen in murder investigations.
‘‘The level of violence inflicted on these two young ladies is extreme and one of the most aggressive attacks that I have seen in 28 years in the police,’’ Port Stephens crime manager Detective Inspector George Radmore said yesterday.
‘‘Completely premeditated, it appears, and unprovoked by the victims.’’
Police believe the attack may have been sexually motivated and have called in the sex crimes squad to help hunt the attacker.
It is believed the suspect was looking for a victim – he was carrying electrical tape, which he used to restrain one of the women – but there is no evidence to suggest why he randomly selected the two cleaners in the middle of an afternoon when children were arriving home from school.
What police do know is there was a brief conversation between the man and the women when they found him in the backyard before he was told to leave the premises about 4pm on Wednesday.
But when he returned, he never said a word as he stormed towards the first victim and knocked her out with the punch that shattered her jaw.
He then bashed the second woman before fleeing as both women lay unconscious.
It is unclear how long they lay on the ground before regaining consciousness and alerting neighbours.
But what has worried senior police, as much as the severity of the injuries, is the sheer randomness of the attack.
It was 4pm on Coachwood Drive when the suspect decided to attack before escaping through bushland at the back of the house.
Robbery has been ruled out as a motive as the attacker left both the women’s handbags untouched.
‘‘[The randomness] is of real concern to police and to members of the Medowie community,’’ Detective Inspector Radmore said.
‘‘Medowie is a suburb where violent offences are not prevalent and this is certainly out of the ordinary for the area.’’
Detective Inspector Radmore said the community should not be greatly alarmed about the attack but should continue to take precautions for their safety.
Police set up a mobile command at Medowie shopping centre yesterday and have again pleaded for information.
‘‘Someone out there knows the identity of this person and he needs to be brought to justice,’’ Detective Inspector Radmore said.
Police also seized several items during a search of bushland behind the house. Those items will be sent away for forensic testing.
The suspect is in his mid to late 20s, of Caucasian appearance with a tanned or olive complexion, of average height, athletic build and has an Australian accent.
He was clean shaven with brown hair and was wearing a light coloured T-shirt and dark coloured knee-length shorts with dark sunglasses.
Port Stephens detectives
Crime Stoppers 1800333000