A distinctive tattoo will be the key to catching a man who attacked Taranaki Hospital chaplain Murray Elliot with a knife in an attempted robbery yesterday, police say.
"He may change his clothes but he can't get rid of the tattoo in a hurry, it's very recognisable," Sergeant Bruce Irvine said.
The tattoo is a "sunray" type pattern next to the left eye.
About 8.40am Elliot was in the hospital's chapel when an intruder entered and demanded the collection box.
"It's a robbery, the man has gone in and asked for money, the chaplain has said no and has been attacked," Irvine said.
"He has then grabbed the chaplain and cut his arm with what has been described as a bright orange box cutter knife. He has hit the chaplain over the head with a stick multiple times then fled the building."
The chaplain was taken to the emergency department where he was treated for bruising and cuts to his face and arm.
A hospital spokeswoman said the chaplain was being looked after and is in a comfortable condition.
"He thanks everyone for the good wishes he has received and asks that the media respect his privacy as he recovers."
Nothing was taken from the office and it is unknown in what direction the offender fled.
Irvine said a large number of police were investigating.
The man is described as a male European in his early to mid 20s, standing 1.78m tall, wearing a black hoodie, black pants with white stripes and black fingerless gloves.
Police were running the man's identity through their data bases, Irvine said.
No patients have been reported missing from the hospital's mental health ward, he said.
Police are hoping someone saw the man fleeing from the hospital and urged anyone with information to contact them, Irvine said.
Irvine said the man should not be approached as he could still be armed with the knife.
"Anyone who sees him should ring 111 immediately," the police sergeant said.
- Taranaki Daily News