The family of a special needs Wellington man who was assaulted on Wednesday night are humbled by the heartwarming community response.
Raymond Burnside, also known as "Coke man", was assaulted on his way home from Queensgate Shopping Centre in Lower Hutt around 7.30pm.
The 45-year-old is autistic, has Asperger's and epilepsy, and lives at home with his mother, Carol, in Upper Hutt.
Carol explained to the Herald that on Wednesday evening Raymond had rung her from the mall and said he would stop at McDonald's for dinner so she could "have an easy night".
"Then time passed and he wasn't home. I thought he's had more than enough time to do what he said he was going to do - something is wrong.
"Then he walked in the back door, and I noticed he was being followed by three policemen and that he had blood all over him," she said.
"He was bleeding from his head and it was all through his hair, down his neck and on to his clothes."
Raymond was attacked by a group of about six people while walking home along Islington St.
He was two doors down from where they live, when he spotted a couple kissing and wolf whistled, Carol explained.
"Next thing he knew he was being chased. He had the forethought when he got to our drive not to go up it because he didn't want to show them where he lives.
"He went next door, was pushed to the ground and was punched and kicked.
"He had a wound on his head, and there was glass on the ground so he was cut - there was blood everywhere," she said.
She said along with the cut to his head, Raymond also has two black eyes and marks all over his forehead from where he was kicked.
"It was very traumatic but he has taken it very well," she said.
After learning about the assault, Raymond's brother Marty took to social media to alert people.
"My brother got beaten up tonight by a bunch of thugs on Islington St. He is special needs and wouldn't have been able to defend himself," he wrote on the Upper Hutt Community page.
"If anyone hears or knows who did this please report it to the police. This is a chicken s**t thing for people to do. No one deserves to be picked on... no one."
The post has since been liked over 1700 times and commented on and shared by over 600 people.
Carol said the family had been overwhelmed by the response.
"We were absolutely amazed. He has never had attention like this. I am very proud of him, he is one of the bravest people I know," she said.
"He is well-known in the community because he goes to Queensgate Mall everyday and they call him 'Coke man' because he is never without a can of Coke - that's how most people know him," she said.
Carol explained how Raymond was treated like a celebrity at the supermarket.
"Everybody was rushing up to him and giving him free drinks and food," she said.
"They were very nice, so overall although it was a bad experience for Raymond in a lot of ways, the response has blown him away."
Members of the Upper Hutt Community page are also rallying together to donate gifts and cards to Raymond.
"Now we are just waiting for all the things that people have promised. I'm not sure whether to expect a deluge - and of what," Carol laughed.
"But it's really nice because he doesn't have friends, so it's really nice to have people asking how he is and paying attention. He is opening up and blossoming."
Carol said police had taken all details they could, but they were yet to hear of an arrest or if any charges would be laid.
A Police spokesperson said police responded to a disorderly incident on Islington St at 7.30pm.
"A person was assaulted and sustained moderate injuries. Police are conducting inquiries to establish circumstances and locate the offenders."