Violence at Bay bars

By Sam Hurley, Doug Laing

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A barman was robbed at gunpoint and assaulted while four patrons were attacked outside another pub in two violent episodes at the weekend.

In the first incident, two employees of Hastings' Horse & Hound bar ended their Saturday night shift at gunpoint after they were robbed and assaulted as they closed up at about 10pm.

A man dressed in black and carrying a small bag entered the Karamu Rd bar brandishing a gun. He threatened the workers and demanded cash from the till.

Police described the weapon as a short black rifle.

Police Detective Sergeant Craig Vinning said the man assaulted one of the employees during the robbery, striking him in the back with the rifle stock, before running from the scene. The man suffered minor injuries.

"His victims are fine physically but even though they complied completely with his directions, one of them was still struck with the firearm," he said.

Police suggested the offender knew the establishment well and may have watched the bar and those working in there in the days leading up to the robbery.

"We believe the offender has watched and waited for the bar to empty and for staff to begin closing before making his move," he said. "His actions in the bar indicate some familiarity with the bar layout and surrounding."

The bar manager, who was at the pub Saturday, said last night he would not comment on the incident until the results of the police investigation were known.

Police described the offender as Maori, aged in his mid to late 20's or early 30's, of a stocky build at about 6 foot.

Police would study CCTV footage of the attack in the hope it would help identify the robber.

In the second incident, four men were taken to hospital after being attacked by at least two other males outside Shed 2 in Napier's West Quay about 2.30am yesterday.

The most significantly injured, a 21-year-old on a night out with friends during a weekend home from university, suffered a broken nose, two black eyes and received cuts to his face and head. All four, including one who was struck while going to help those under attack, were treated and discharged, and police are reviewing CCTV footage and seeking witnesses to the assaults.

The 21-year-old told Hawke's Bay Today he had just left the bar with two friends to look for a taxi when a man crossed the road and started punching one in what appeared be an unprovoked assault by a stranger.

He tried to stop the assault but was also attacked, possibly by a second assailant.

He saw little else of what happened, but was aware one of his friends had been kicked on the ground in what seemed to be a short attack before the offenders fled.

Bar staff called the St John Ambulance Service and police, who were hopeful of finding the offenders, though no arrests were understood to have been made.

The student said he hadn't previously been involved in any violent incidents in the area, but yesterday morning's attack happened in the usual mayhem as crowds left the bars in the area and spilled onto the streets.

"More often than not a fight breaks out," he said.

A police spokesman said there had been "a lot of disorder and parties" in Napier and Hastings on Saturday night and while police tried to maintain a consistent presence in the West Quay area he was unsure if police had been nearby at the time the attack happened.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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