Police hunting ‘wannabe’ gang member who beat up the wrong guy

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Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

An Auckland holidaymaker is recovering from a serious assault inflicted by a “wannabe” gang member who mistook him for someone else at a Kaitāia supermarket.

Now police in the Far North town are calling for witnesses to the incident which occurred about 10.55am on Friday, 17 November at Pak’nSave on North Road.

Detective Sergeant Russell Richards said it began when two gang members, one of whom was wearing a patch, had an altercation in a supermarket aisle.

Staff intervened and the men were separated.

A short time later, however, one of the men sent an associate – Richards described him as a lower-ranked, “wannabe” gang member – into the supermarket to carry out a reprisal.

The associate was given a description of the other gang member’s clothing and instructions to assault him.

Unfortunately, an Auckland man who had called into the supermarket on his way to a bach for a family holiday was wearing similar clothing.

The innocent 46-year-old visitor was struck with a flurry of punches as he was exiting the store and knocked unconscious.

The attacker continued to kick the man and stomp on him as he lay on the ground.

Members of the public, supermarket staff and the victim’s 79-year-old father stopped the attack but the victim suffered “pretty serious injuries”, Richards said.

Police had CCTV footage of the assault and “good lines of enquiry” but needed to speak to witnesses as well.

Richards urged anyone who saw the attack to call the police number 105, quoting file number 231120/9056. He would then phone back.

“This is a really good family who’ve done nothing wrong, but they’ve come to Kaitāia and experienced this. We’re keen to speak with anyone who can help with our enquiries.”

The victim was now back home in Auckland, where he was recovering from his injuries but understandably shaken.

Richards praised those who had bravely intervened to stop the attack.

“If it’s not for this action, the offender’s cowardly act could have resulted in a far worse outcome.”

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