Bus driver quits after brutal bashing
A bus driver whose attackers were jailed for bashing him unconscious has returned to Iran after the attack "shook his confidence" to work.
Go Bus South Island operations director Nigel Piper says the "cowardly" attack was a catalyst for the driver to leave Christchurch after three people bashed, robbed and spat at him while on his bus run in New Brighton on February 25.
Lucy Anne Hamilton, 18, has been jailed for 18 months for her part in the incident, while Riapo Piripi Tipene, 18, has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.
Pierce Michael Harrison, 23, pleaded guilty to intentionally causing grievous bodily harm and theft in the Christchurch District Court today.
The driver approached the trio because of their language and behaviour. They were the last three on the bus when Hamilton swore and spat at him before the two men allegedly stepped in and beat him, while Hamilton took the cash tray.
"The driver had just over a week off after the event, and came back for a short time (two weeks) when he decided it wasn't for him any more," Piper said.
"He returned home to Iran three to four weeks after the event. I would expect that it probably was the catalyst that helped him decide what he wanted.
"I guess it shook his confidence - as it would with most people. It's not what they sign up for."
Piper believed the sentences handed down to Hamilton and Tipene were appropriate, and hoped they would be a deterrent for others in the future, although such events were "rare".
"It was pretty cowardly from my view, there was three of them and one driver who was seated in a confined area.
"It's hard enough for our drivers to negotiate Christchurch roads at the moment with all the repairs, they shouldn't have to do it while worring about their safety."
Piper was satisfied with the safety measures in place to protect drivers.
He said buses are fitted with up to five cameras and the 170-strong urban Go Bus fleet had upgraded its radio system during the past month to enhance communication and security.
The location of each bus was known by a GPS system.
"For the case in February, it was very easy to work out exactly where the bus was and the police were able to attend quickly and, as I understand it, arrested them not too far from the scene," Piper said.
Amalgamated Workers' Union New Zealand assistant secratary Lindsay Chappell said driver abuse was less of an issue in Christchurch than other centres, and believed safety was of priority for local bus companies.
About 500 Christchurch bus drivers belong to the union.