Couple concerned about safety in Victoria Park after recent assault

Officials say security is present seven days a week

Published on June 6, 2014

Rebecca Whidden and Catlin Gilbert claim they were assaulted at Victoria Park the night of May 16. PHOTO BY RAISSA TETANISH

TRURO – A North River couple is hoping the public will take heed of a recent experience they had at a local park.

Rebecca Whidden and Catlin Gilbert claim they were assaulted at Victoria Park the night of May 16.

“We want people to know that it’s not safe to be up here at night, no matter if you’re with friends or not,” said Whidden, 33. “We still have flashbacks and nightmares about it.”

The couple said they had been in the town on Friday when a friend texted to invite them to the park.

Shortly after arriving at the public park, the couple said they were jumped by the friend and others at the top of Jacobs Ladder and suffered numerous injuries, including concussions.

Whidden said one of four males attacked her to the point where she needed three staples in her head. The other three males jumped Gilbert, 25, they claim.

“It ended up that I was able to get away, and realized I dropped my phone. I was able to get my phone and I took off as slowly as I could without drawing attention to myself. That’s when I was able to call 911,” she said.

Gilbert said he was able to get away after complying with demands to take his clothes off.

“I jumped down over a cliff,” he said, adding that’s when he ran into a police officer.

“His face was so covered in blood, you couldn’t recognize him,” Whidden said about her boyfriend.

Doug MacKenzie, director of the Town of Truro’s Parks, Recreation and Culture department, said the incident in question is “a very unusual” occurrence.

“I don’t believe public safety in Victoria Park is an issue,” he said. “It would be a different story if you and I had been walking through the park and we were attacked by people we didn’t know.”

Truro Police Service Insp. Rob Hearn said three males have been charged with assault causing bodily harm in relation to an incident at Victoria Park at around 10:20 that night.

The males – two 20-year-olds and a 19-year-old – have been charged with assault causing bodily harm and are expected to make their first appearance in provincial court in July.

MacKenzie said there are employees of the police service that provide security at the park.

“From early May to beyond Labour Day weekend, for seven days a week there is a security presence,” said MacKenzie, adding security was also in place when the couple said they were attacked.

The park, he noted, is open from daybreak to dusk, which is common practice for other parks.

The couple said they are hesitant in returning to Victoria Park, especially at night, unless with a group of people.

“We are still traumatized by what happened,” said Gilbert. “It could’ve happened to kids.”

Twitter: @TDNRaissa