12/11/2012 08:36 EST | Updated 02/10/2013 05:12 EST

Beaten Surrey woman in critical condition

A woman is in critical condition in hospital after she was found severely beaten in a vacant Surrey, B.C., lot strewn with used hypodermic needles.

The 43-year-old was discovered in the Whalley neighbourhood Sunday, but the severity of her injuries was not made public until Tuesday, with reports that one of the woman’s eyes had been gouged out.

Ken Smith, who claims to have found the woman, named Janice, chained to a tree, said she was so badly beaten he couldn’t tell who she was.

"I didn't recognize her at the time," Smith told CBC News.

Surrey RCMP did not issue a press release or public warning after the attack, and that concerns homeless advocate Jonquil Hallgate.

"It would have been nice if something had been done. It reinforces that maybe our lives don't matter as much," Hallgate said Tuesday.

Cpl. Bert Paquet flatly reject that view, saying the incident did not signal a threat to public safety.

“Totally not true,” Paquet said.

Paquet would not say if the attack was targeted or if it involved a drug debt.

The area is known to be frequented by drug users.

Statistics for Whalley show violent crime in the area has increased over the past year by as much as 12 per cent, despite an overall drop in violent crime for Surrey as a whole.