Child Abuse Squad Newcastle detectives charge Paul Michael Johns with indecent assault

Toronto courthouse.

Toronto courthouse.

A MAN accused of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl he picked up off the side of the road at West Wallsend last month has been refused bail in Toronto Local Court.

Paul Michael Johns, 36, of Argenton, appeared in court on Friday charged with indecently assaulting a person under the age of 16 and failing to comply with the reporting obligations of the child protection register. 

He did not enter any pleas and Magistrate Allan Railton refused him bail to appear again on October 11.

The arrest came after a month-long manhunt for the suspect, after the girl told investigators she was coerced into a car by a motorist as she walked along George Booth Drive at West Wallsend on August 22. 

Information from the public had pointed detectives from the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse Squad Newcastle office at the suspect and an extensive investigation had culminated in a search of his property on Thursday. 

Police had also seized a motor vehicle at another location. 

Police had been told the girl, who was dressed in a yellow and blue fairytale costume, was walking along the busy road about midday on August 22 when a man in a car stopped and spoke to her, offering her a lift.

The girl got into the car but when they were near Stockrington, the man stopped and allegedly indecently assaulted her before she got out and ran away.

A passing motorist stopped to help the girl and called emergency services.

Police conducted an extensive search of the area, but couldn’t locate the man or his car.

Detectives launched an investigation and appealed for public information to locate the man or his vehicle. 

A tip-off from a member of the public led police to the man’s home at Argenton where he was arrested about 11am on Thursday. 

Based on information provided by the community and after an extensive investigation, a search warrant was executed at a home in Argenton on Thursday. - NSW police spokesman.

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