Bat used in street attack

By Aaron van Delden,

"Are you ready to die today?"

Those were the chilling words uttered by an attacker moments before he bashed Richard Frederick with a softball bat.

The blow hit Mr Frederick's left leg, behind his knee, and was followed by a demand for his prescription glasses and $400 cellphone.

The 26-year-old was on the corner of Harper St and Maire St in Gonville, part way through his newspaper-delivery run, about 5.45am yesterday when he was attacked.

As demanded, Mr Frederick handed his property over.

His assailant threw the glasses on the ground and stomped on them, before telling Mr Frederick: "I don't want to see you around here again."

The attacker fled via Maire St, while Mr Frederick ran along Harper St, to a relative's house.

The family member was already awake, preparing for her workday, and drove Mr Frederick home, where he gave a statement to the police.

Mr Frederick said the attack was entirely unexpected. He has been delivering the Wanganui Chronicle about Harper St for the past six years without incident.

The only difference to his routine yesterday was that he had to walk his delivery run, because his bicycle had a flat tyre.

Mr Frederick, who was born with an incomplete 22nd chromosome, lives with his sister, Amanda, 32, and her daughter, Jessemine-Grace, 12. He has impaired hearing and a heart condition.

Miss Frederick said the attacker was a "bloody coward".

She said her brother, despite his disabilities, strove to be a positive member of society.

As well as delivering papers, Mr Frederick tends to the trolleys at Countdown Wanganui, in the Trafalgar Square shopping centre, and is completing a computing course at the YMCA.

Miss Frederick was "very, very angry" when the Chronicle spoke with her yesterday afternoon while Mr Frederick was being seen by a GP at Gonville Health.

His leg has not been permanently injured, but the doctor prescribed painkillers to ease his recovery.

Miss Frederick said her brother had been serving the community when he was attacked.

She was relieved her daughter had not been helping him yesterday morning with his delivery run, as she sometimes did during summer.

Miss Frederick said it was fortunate her brother's leg, rather than head, took the hit, and that a relative lived so close to the scene of the attack, because, without a cellphone, she believes he may have ended up limping all the way home.

Mr Frederick was not sure of his attacker's race, however, he described him as being about 5ft 11in (1.8m) tall, in his 20s, with black hair and wearing a black singlet and baggy, denim shorts.

Anyone who may have information or who may have seen suspicious activity should contact the police.

Mr Frederick will no longer deliver papers to Harper St.

The Chronicle's newspaper sales and distribution manager, Louisa Hewitt, said he would be given an alternative run.

He would also receive counselling.

His glasses and cellphone, meanwhile, were covered by insurance and will be replaced soon.

Miss Frederick said she was unsure whether the attack on her brother was random or, given the comment the attacker made about not wanting to see Mr Frederick "around here again", targeted.

There have been just two serious incidents involving Wanganui Chronicle runners in past three years. Apart from the assault on Mr Frederick, there has been an attempted snatching.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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