Bus driver attacked and robbed

BLAIR ENSOR & ANNE CLARKSON
Last updated 13:03 26/02/2014

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A bus driver was allegedly spat at, grabbed around the neck and punched by three people who then robbed him.

He was taken to hospital with cuts to his face, and swelling and bruising to his face and neck at Christchurch about 11.30pm, yesterday.

Two men and a woman have been arrested in connection with the attack and will appear in court this morning.

Police were called to the robbery on a bus on Marine Parade, New Brighton.

Witnesses said the driver, aged in his 40s, was spat at, grabbed around the neck and punched by the trio, a police spokesman said.

While the men assaulted the bus driver, a woman grabbed the coin tray from the bus, and the group made off with a small amount of cash.

Detective Sergeant Hamish Wilson this morning said the group made off with less than $40.

"It's needless violence," Wilson said.

"They [bus drivers] don't hold a significant amount of money and they're out there running a service for the community."

The driver had been released from hospital and was recovering from his ordeal.

The three alleged offenders were arrested nearby after they were tracked by a police dog handler.

ATTACK WAS 'UNPROVOKED'

Go Bus operations director Nigel Piper said the attack was "unprovoked" and "extremely cowardly".

The three people who were arrested had been disruptive "from the moment they got on the bus", Piper said.

"The driver had to stop the bus and ask them to sit down. Further along the road when they went to disembark one of them attacked the driver and the other two joined in."

Piper said the driver was knocked unconscious during the incident. The company was offering support to the man who was doing "surprisingly well" considering his ordeal. He was recovering at home and would be off work for "a little while".

CCTV cameras on the bus captured the incident and footage had been provided to police.

He would not comment about other security measures on the bus. However, a review would be carried out to see if any improvements could be made.

Attacks on drivers were rare and they did not necessarily happen at night, Piper said. 

"It's random. It's one of those events that can happen at any time.

"While there are measures in place, unfortunately there are people out there with a mind to do these things."

BUS BAN FOR TWO ROBBERY ACCUSED

A 22-year-old man and a 17-year-old woman have been banned from using public transport while on remand.

They have been allowed bail after their arrest on a charge of robbing a bus driver. 

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Judge Duncan Harvey told Pierce Michael Harrison, a 22-year-old gib stopper from Phillipstown: "You need to understand very clearly that you are very lucky to be granted bail. If there are any breaches you are likely to be remanded in custody."

Harrison was remanded to March 19 on stringent conditions that he live at his home in Phillipstown, abide by a night-time curfew, not associate with the other two people charged with the robbery, not consume alcohol, non-prescription drugs, or legal highs, and not use public transport.

The three are charged with aggravated robbery last night by acting together to rob a bus driver of cash.

Police opposed bail for Lucy Anne Hamilton, 17, of Parklands who was charged with aggravated robbery and assaulting police.

Defence counsel Phillip Allan said Hamilton allegedly got in a fracas about the bus drivers' driving, and assaulted him. While others became involved she allegedly took the float money.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Neil Williams said police had viewed CTV footage and saw two males assaulting the bus driver, who spent a night in hospital because of his injuries.

Judge Duncan Harvey remanded Hamilton on bail to March 19.

The third alleged offender Riapo Piripi Tipene, 17, of Linwood, was remanded in custody to March 6. Police opposed bail for him, and he made no application.

Were you, or anyone you know, on the bus when this happened? Contact blair.ensore@press.co.nz.

- The Press

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