Auckland attack: Mother forgives assailant

By Andrew Koubaridis

'Bright, personable' young man unlikely to survive brutal attack in central Auckland.

Tarun Asthana was always fun to be with, say friends.
Tarun Asthana was always fun to be with, say friends.

The mother of a young man brutally assaulted in central Auckland was by his bedside last night praying for a miracle - and had already forgiven the man accused of causing the injury that was likely to end his life.

Tarun Asthana was on life support in Auckland City Hospital with a head injury caused when he was punched and fell heavily to the ground, striking his head on the pavement.

His mother, Yvette Asthana, had barely left his side since, and his father was expected to arrive in the country last night from India. Doctors were keeping Mr Asthana alive long enough for his father to say goodbye.

On Saturday, just after 5am, the 25-year-old was standing outside McDonald's near the intersection of Queen and Customs Sts when the incident occurred - apparently triggered by a compliment he paid to a young woman.

But Mrs Asthana doesn't hold any malice towards the attacker.

"She told me she has forgiven him," said Father Peter Tipene, of Christ the King Catholic Parish in Owairaka.

"It's quite amazing isn't it? She said God was forgiving us constantly so she felt she could do so."

Father Tipene led prayers for Mr Asthana yesterday and said no one in the community could understand how this could happen to such a "bright, personable" young man.

"He was like a magnet to people ... He had a sense of humour and had everything going for him."

Father Tipene had seen reports that Mr Asthana had complimented a young woman on her dress, which did not surprise him as he always had positive words for everyone.

"I think when the person who punched him realises what sort of person Tarun is, and what they have done, they will be quite ashamed."

When Father Tipene visited the hospital, he found friends and family all praying that Tarun would recover.

"We are all praying for a miracle but maybe it will be that we are praying that God takes him quickly."

Mr Asthana looked as though he was asleep, aside from the tubes that were keeping him alive. His mother could hardly talk, but told Father Tipene she was devastated he would miss out on a future that, until early on Saturday, had looked so bright.

A trainee primary school teacher, Mr Asthana also DJed at several Auckland clubs and had been with his flatmate Sharon Tuck at several clubs in the Britomart precinct before the attack. They had only just decided to call it a night and were heading home. Ms Tuck confirmed the assault started when he complimented a girl on her dress.

"She wasn't impressed with that and got quite aggressive and started yelling out some nasty things to him," Ms Tuck told 3 News. "Then another male who wasn't really with her but was nearby ran over yelling at him as well and punched him in the face.

"It's pretty devastating. We're all sort of waiting for him to wake up and say it was all a big joke. He was just so much fun all the time and he was always there for us so now we're all just trying to be there for him."

Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Florence said a 27-year-old had been charged with assault. Inquiries were continuing and officers wanted to hear from anyone who might have witnessed the attack.

- NZ Herald

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