Taxi cab footage helps find attack suspects

JONO GALUSZKA AND JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 25/08/2012

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Footage from a taxi cab was crucial in finding two men alleged to have bashed a Palmerston North driver, police say.

And the taxi company manager hopes the attackers feel the full force of the law.

The driver, who asked not to be named, was allegedly attacked on August 11 near West End School by two passengers he had picked up near the intersection of College and Ada streets. The Palmerston North pair accused of involvement appeared in the city's district court yesterday, charged with assault and intent to rob, while armed with a pair of scissors.

Both Leroi James Cootes, 20, unemployed, and powdercoater Chhantra Trin, 21, were remanded in custody until Tuesday.

Neither entered a plea and Cootes didn't make a bail application.

Duty lawyer Mark Alderdice did apply for Trin to be bailed to his parent's house, but Judge Gregory Ross turned the request down.

However, as the matter could go to trial, the judge suppressed his remarks.

Away from court, Taxis Palmerston North operations manager Nigel Kinniburgh said he was "over the moon" at the result, and hoped justice would be served.

"Hopefully they throw the book at them," he said.

"They have gone out there with the sole purpose to attack a taxi driver.

"I don't think a smack on the hand or community detention will be enough. They need to go away."

Since it became compulsory for taxis to have video cameras about a year ago, they had been used to solve all sorts of problems, Mr Kinniburgh said.

"If anything, it proves beyond reasonable doubt - one way or another - what happened."

Detective Sergeant Dave Thompson said the high-quality footage from the taxi's video camera had been "invaluable" in the search for the two men.

"[People] are just fools if they are thinking about doing this stuff," Mr Thompson said.

Better technology was helping police use footage to find more criminals.

"The footage we are getting from dairies and takeaways is really good quality these days."

Mr Kinniburgh said the driver had returned to work, but had been given time to take a break.

"He's shot off to Australia for a holiday. He needed a break to clear his head."

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- Manawatu Standard

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