by Sophie Cornish
Gordon Proctor was lying on the floor of a public toilet screaming for help when a man believed to be in his early 20s walked in.
Instead of helping the 92-year-old, he stole Proctor's phone, which had fallen out of his pocket.
Bindi Donaldson also heard Proctor's calls for help and was walking towards the toilets on Shaw Ave in New Brighton, Christchurch on Saturday when the young man yelled out as he left: "A man has fallen."
Donaldson said: "I said to (the man) 'go into the pharmacy and get them to call an ambulance'. The young man didn't return to the toilets, but I went into the pharmacy to ensure he had made them ring."
A police spokesman said the theft is being investigated.
"Police take every crime reported very seriously and we acknowledge that events like this can be unsettling for the victims . . . while inquiries are ongoing we are often not in a position to go into details as it may hamper the investigation."
However, police may have a big clue into the offender's identity. There are CCTV cameras near the toilets.
Proctor only received a scratch on his hand, but says he is still trying to recover from the fall.
"When I let go of the wall, I thought is this the last of it? If I fall and bang my head on the concrete floor, I am likely to be knocked cold.
"But I fell right down on my back and didn't bang my head . . . but I was lying on the cold concrete floor shivering," said Proctor.
St John ambulance spokesman Gerard Campbell said staff treated the man and took him back to his residence following a call at 2.20pm on Saturday.
Donaldson, who lives in New Brighton, said she thought the alleged thief was aged 18-25.
"He (Mr Proctor) was in quite a state for a while. He was saying 'my phone' just after I entered the bathrooms. This was all in under a minute, more like 30sec, from the man leaving," Donaldson said.
A former gardener, Proctor made news headlines in 2016 when his neighbours on Keeple St, New Brighton, attempted to stop him selling seedlings by setting sprinklers on him and wiping out his hand-written advertising messages.
He also managed two community gardens in the New Brighton area.