Stab victim says pizza badge saved him

By Jonathan Dow

A pizza worker stabbed three times in a vicious night-time robbery was only saved from serious injury by the badge on his chest.

Three men wearing hooded sweatshirts and motocross masks stormed into the Pt Chevalier branch of Pizza Haven on Friday night, stabbing pizza worker Kevin Duttagupta before making off with more than $700.

Police say given the well-organised nature of the attack the trio could strike again.

Remarkably Mr Duttagupta, 28, from New Lynn, was backat work yesterday, less than 24 hours after the Friday night assault which left him nursing several stab wounds.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday, he told of how the attackers burst through the rear of the premises around 10.25pm after other staff had been sent home.

In the main customer service area, one man blocked MrDuttagupta's exit from the shop while another came at him with a knife with a 15cm blade.

He then bailed Mr Duttagupta into a corner screaming, "Give me the money."

The frightened pizza worker then stammered "What money," before his attacker yelled "The money from the till." Before Mr Duttagupta could react, he stabbed him in his left arm - the first of three wounds.

In shock, Mr Duttagupta said he felt no immediate pain. He then opened the till, from which the robbers grabbed more than $700 in cash.

Customer Anthony Munns witnessed the assault seconds before the stabbing when he walked into the shop to pick up a pizza he had ordered. Having heard the shouts from along the road, he walked in to see two of the three masked men behind the counter threatening Mr Duttagupta. He ran to a neighbour to raise the alarm. Running back into the shop, he found the customer area empty, as Mr Duttagupta had now been dragged into the kitchen.

There, Mr Duttagupta cowered in a corner as his attackers stood over him, demanding the combination to the safe. "I can't. I don't know the combination," he shouted back.

The men then stabbed him in the chest, the blade slicing through his Pizza Haven uniform and another shirt. Luckily, Mr Duttagupta said his Pizza Haven badge deflected the blow, protecting him from more severe injury.

The attackers then kicked him in the neck before leaving through the rear of the building. Splattered in blood, Mr Duttagupta managed to make his way back intothe shop where Mr Munns wasstill waiting.

Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott said the white motocross masks were bought especially for a robbery.

"Not only have they brought the knife into the store - they have used it. The guy would have given the money over anyway."

Anyone with information on the robbery should contact police.

- HERALD ON SUNDAY

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