A hospital chaplain was assaulted with a box cutter and a stick after telling a man attempting to rob his collection boxes, "You can't take God's money".

Murray Elliot was assaulted in his office at Taranaki Base Hospital in New Plymouth yesterday.

Police were last night appealing for help in identifying the attacker. He has a distinctive tattoo by his left eye described as rays of the sun coming out in five lines.

Mr Elliot received a cut to the arm and several blows to the head but was well enough to be discharged late yesterday, after the 8.40am attack.


"The chaplain was in the chapel office when the man has entered the room and demanded money," Sergeant Bruce Irvine of the New Plymouth Police said.

"He has then grabbed the chaplain and cut his arm with what has been described as a bright orange box cutter knife. He has hit the chaplain over the head with a stick multiple times, then fled the building."

Another police sergeant, Royston Betteridge, added: "He was demanding the money and the chaplain said there was nothing there to take and 'You can't take God's money'."

Nothing was taken from the office.

The offender was Pakeha, aged between 20 and 25, with short dark hair and short dark stubble on his face, around 1.7m tall, and of slim to medium build.

"I caution the public to not approach the man but if they see him please call 111 immediately," Mr Irvine said.

The suspect had a distinctive tattoo around his eye, as seen in this police sketch.

The man was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a zip at the front, which was baggy and reached to his mid thigh, and black track pants with white stripes down the side of the legs. He was also wearing black fingerless gloves.

"This is a very unique tattoo and would be easily recognisable," Mr Irvine said.


"We are hoping someone has seen the man fleeing or seen him exit the hospital and I strongly encourage anyone with information to contact police."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the station on (06) 759-5500. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.