Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Ryder attack: Vigil outside hospital

More than 40 people turned up to an emotional candlelit vigil for stricken cricket star Jesse Ryder tonight.

The group stood outside Christchurch hospital in support of Ryder who remains in intensive care after being attacked on a night out to celebrate the end of the season.

Members of the public mixed with friends of Ryder's as well as cricket peers. Among them were members of the Canterbury Wizards who played against Ryder's Wellington Firebirds hours before the attack, including Black Cap Tom Latham.

People in the crowd spoke about the attack saying it was disappointing and unnecessary.
One woman told nzherald.co.nz the people of Christchurch were shocked.
"Everybody's feeling sick about it, really," she said.

Police have arrested a second man over an attack on cricketer Jesse Ryder in Christchurch early yesterday.

In a press conference this afternoon, it was revealed that Ryder gave a 'thumbs up' to his family and manager this morning, but the full impact of his head injuries will not be known until he is out of his induced coma.

Police confirmed the second arrest late this afternoon, saying the 37-year-old man had been arrested and charged with assault and will appear in Christchurch District Court on Thursday.

Police said they had reviewed CCTV footage of the incident outside a bar in Merivale.

The people involved in the two attacks on Ryder were the part of the same group, police said.

Members of the public were involved in trying to stop the attack, which may have lead to a misunderstanding as to how many were involved in the attack.

The 20-year-old man was found through information from a taxi company and the other man was identified separately by police, Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said.

Ryder's manager Aaron Klee thanked all the people who had sent messages of support.

He said Ryder's family had not focused on the police investigation and the arrest of one person, but were concentrating on Ryder.

There had been numerous messages of support, including from international cricket players, which had been read to the injured cricketer.

Klee was emotional as he said talked about Ryder's recovery.

Ryder was now in a stable condition in intensive care and still needed help with breathing because of an injury to his lung.

Ryder's mother Heather and his partner Ally put out a statement today in which they thanked ambulance staff who treated Ryder at the scene as well as Christchurch Hospital staff for looking after him since.

"Also, Aaron Klee and Heath Mills who have been there for us and Jesse at this extremely difficult time. Many thanks to New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Wellington for their ongoing support,'' they said.

"Our families and friends who have constantly kept in touch offering their love, support, and kind messages. Thank you to the Christchurch police for the great work in bringing the people responsible for the heinous crime committed on our Jesse. Jesse will be chuffed knowing how many people care and have reached out, including the huge number of cricket fans and players from around the world.

"We have read many of the messages online over the past 24 hours and we are keeping them for Jesse to read when he recovers.''

They asked for privacy as they focused on getting Jesse better.

In a statement earlier today police confirmed the 20-year-old man was interviewed last night. He was then arrested and charged with assault and is to appear in Christchurch District Court next Thursday.

Ryder is still fighting for his life in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital after the brutal assault in which his alleged attackers kicked him while he was lying on the ground.

The attack came after he had been enjoying a few quiet drinks with Wellington Firebirds teammates on Wednesday night.

When he went to leave Aikmans bar in Merivale about 12.30am yesterday, he was attacked by at least two men, police said yesterday.


In an earlier statement, police confirmed a 20-year-old man was last night interviewed in relation to their involvement with the incident.

He was arrested and charged with assault and is to appear in Christchurch District Court next Thursday.

Ryder is still fighting for his life this morning after a brutal assault in which his alleged attackers kicked him while he was lying on the ground.

The cricket star remains in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital, with his family and manager by his side, after the attack early yesterday morning.

A hospital spokesman told APNZ this morning that his condition was unchanged overnight, with Ryder still in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer, who is heading the investigation, confirmed inquiries had continued through the night.

"The investigation is continuing ... we are still working on it."

He would not comment further, but said he was expecting to release more information about Ryder's condition in a press release later this morning.

The troubled sportsman suffered a fractured skull and a punctured lung in the attack, which came after he had been enjoying a quiet "few drinks" with Wellington Firebirds teammates on Wednesday.

When he went to leave Aikmans bar in Merivale about 12.30am yesterday, he was attacked by "at least two" men, police said at a packed media conference yesterday.

The burly cricketer crossed the road to follow Firebirds teammates who had gone to McDonalds.

But two men followed him, and one viciously assaulted him again.

Christchurch HR manager Emma-Louise Ferguson said she was shocked at the "unbelievably brutal" violence meted out to Ryder as he lay prone on the ground outside Aikmans bar.

Ms Ferguson is no stranger to fighting, after taking on Hayley Holt in a charity boxing match in 2011.

She said she was having a quiet drink with friends when she saw three or four men set upon Ryder just outside the bar's entrance just after 12.30am Thursday.

As far as she could see, it was an unprovoked attack on the former Black Caps batsman.

"There was a group of guys in there having a few drinks. There were eight to 10 of them. Everyone was pretty relaxed, it didn't look like anyone was intoxicated. It was just an idle Wednesday night with about 20 people in the bar.

"Just around 12.30am, I look up and three or four guys were attacking Jesse. There didn't seem to be any argument or anything. They were just punching him, they had him on the ground and they were kicking him hard. It was unbelievably brutal. It was literally right outside the door of the bar.

"When he was on the ground, I couldn't actually see him but I could hear the they were kicking him as hard as they could. I know about impact, I've seen fights and been in (charity boxing) fights and this was sickening. I can't understand what could have caused them to attack him in such a way."

A friend of Ms Ferguson intervened and helped pull the attackers away, she said.

Police have said that Ryder was then attacked for a second time in the carpark of a McDonald's restaurant across the road, where he sustained the worst of his injuries.

Now, Ryder's mum and his agent Aaron Klee have flown to be with him.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said the bar had handed over to police security camera footage of the attack and police were trying to work out who the assailants were.

The four men ran off when emergency services were called.

Mr Archer asked those behind the attack to come forward, adding: "We will be looking for them."

Heath Mills of New Zealand Cricket Players Association said he was aware that Ryder had drunk alcohol in recent weeks and was working with him.

He confirmed that Ryder had been having "a few drinks with his teammates at conclusion of season".

But he stressed the assault was "not an alcohol fuelled incident".

Aikmans bar general manager Steve Holmes claimed that the mother of one of the men who attacked Ryder was there when it happened.

Mr Holmes said the attackers tried to get back into the bar after the assault but were blocked by bar staff.

The mother of one of the men then began arguing for them to be allowed back in before they all left.

Prime Minister John Key described the attack as "extremely vicious" and wished Ryder a speedy recovery.

Blackcap and senior squad member Grant Elliott said they were all waiting for some good news.

"It's not great, is it?" he said.

"But we don't know how serious it is. We're not too sure what's happening - it's all pretty confidential at the hospital. We're all just hoping for the best."

Ryder had been due to depart New Zealand next week to join the Delhi Daredevils for this year's edition of the Indian Premier League where he was bought by the franchise for US$D260,000 (NZD310,577) in February's player auction.


- APNZ, NZ Herald and Herald on Sunday

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