An employee of Big Bites Pizza Amberley on Carters Rd in rural Canterbury was beaten by three baseball bat-wielding men on Friday, August 4. Photo / Google
A trio of baseball bat-wielding men gagged, dragged and beat a pizza shop employee unconscious in a back alley in a rural Canterbury town on Friday evening.
The victim, “a devoted family man”, was attacked while putting rubbish out at the end of his shift at Big Bites Pizza on Carters Rd, Amberley, about 40km north of Christchurch.
Pizzeria owner Narinder Warraich told the Herald the man only arrived in New Zealand four months ago from India, where his wife and 6-year-old son remain and rely on remittance payments.
A social media post by the store said, “This senseless attack has left [his family] in distress and uncertainty.”
Warriach said he had a “detailed chat” with the man, named Singh, about what happened and there was no clear motive.
“Someone came from behind him and hit him on his head with a baseball [bat].
“He fell onto the ground. Then another couple of guys, they drag him into a dark area in a corner.
“[They] put a cloth in his mouth so he can’t cry out, no one can listen to him, and start to beat him,” Warriach said.
Store manager Chandan Chib found the man lying on the ground after the vicious beating.
A spokeswoman for police said they received an assault report on Carters Rd about at 7.11pm and confirmed one person was taken to hospital.
Warriach said Singh “can’t move. He told [me] his shoulder, his neck, it’s still painful.
“He’s pretty scared. He just got discharged like 8am from the hospital. He’s still on painkillers,” he said.
Warriach said Amberley was a “very nice community” and he had other migrant staff who had never experienced anything like this.
But, Warriach said, Singh’s car was damaged while it was parked about a week ago. He believed these incidents could be linked.
“[A group] tried to steal his car and he was the one who saw them and they had to run away,” he said.
“I’m not sure [whether Singh was targetted because he’s new to the country]. It could be racist because he had a turban and a beard, or it could be maybe [be linked to] the [car theft].”
Warriach said he would organise counselling for Singh if he needed it.
“I will talk to him [about returning to work] later on. It’s not the right time. I just want him to recover,” he said.
“I spent the whole night last night with him in the hospital because he doesn’t have any family members here to talk with him.
“He’s the only breadwinner for his family, you know, so the whole family depend on him. I will discuss all these things with him maybe after a couple of days to see how I can support him and his family.”
Warriach said it was an unpleasant welcome for Singh, who moved here for a better life: “And now that’s happened to him, it was really life-threatening the way they beat him.”
Chib, the manager, said he had “never seen anything like this” and he and other employees were worried for their own safety.
In the store’s social media post, anyone with information who could help police was urged to come forward.
“The outpouring of support we’ve already received for our business from our wonderful community [over the] last five years has been heartwarming, and we are immensely grateful,” the post reads.
“Together, let’s demonstrate the power of unity and stand against violence, ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for everyone.
“Your kind words, thoughts, and any information you can provide will make a significant difference in this difficult time.”
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.