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Long road to recovery

Community support for attacked tourist as police inquiry continues

FRENCH tourist Christophe Brerille remains in Gisborne Hospital after a horrific incident he endured last Monday night when he fought off an attacker in his car.

Police say they are making progress in their inquiry into the attack that left Mr Brerille with multiple injuries.

The 32-year-old Frenchman gave a lift to a man who had approached him for a ride as he was parked outside Jetts gym in Gladstone Road at about 8.30pm last Monday night.

When they pulled up outside a house in Cambridge Terrace the offender threatened him with scissors and demanded he get out of the car so he could take it.

Mr Brerille refused and the man attacked him with the scissors and punched him in the head.

In the ensuing fight, the car went out of control and smashed into a house in Ranfurly Street.

The offender — described as a fair-skinned, clean-shaven, male Maori,

182 centimetres tall with short brown hair — ran off with a limp, having been injured in the crash, including hitting his head on the windscreen.

Christophe Brerille needed surgery for stab wounds to his hands and arms

Mr Brerille was taken to hospital where he needed surgery for stab wounds to his hands and arms. He also suffered facial injuries.

Detective Sergeant Wayne Beattie said police were unsure when he was going to be discharged from hospital.

“We are making progress with our inquiry but no arrest has yet been made.

“We still want any further information that may assist us.

“We have been very pleased with the offers of help from our community and also with people offering money and accommodation for Christophe while he recovers,” Det Sgt Beattie said.

“We have been visiting Christophe in hospital every day to check on him and ensure everything that could be done to help him is being done.”

Supergrans Tairawhiti has been involved in supporting him and a fundraiser has been started by The Little Hair Shop.

Trust Tairawhiti has also offered its support.

A number of local people have visited Mr Brerille in hospital.

“My husband is a French national so we wanted to see how we could help,” one woman said.

“He is still in a lot of pain from his injuries and unfortunately he has a long road to recovery.

“He is such a humble guy, who is feeling overwhelmed but very grateful for the kindness he has been getting from our community,” she said.

“I think he appreciated being able to speak in French and really express his emotions.

“Not only had Covid-19 put his working holiday on hold, but now this hideous incident has as well.

“This poor guy cannot work and he won’t leave New Zealand until the offender has been caught,” she said.

Another person who visited him said he was “overwhelmed with joy” to have someone visit him.

“We surprised him with a basket of fruits and flowers, and told him that he is now in a safe place.

“All he has to do is focus on getting better before returning home to France.

“He seems a very nice, soft-spoken, polite gentleman.”

Det Sgt Beattie said police were determined to catch the man responsible.

“We are following strong lines of inquiry on this matter.”

-- The Little Hair Shop has set up a bank account for the tourist. For those who want to contribute, the account number is 02-0636- 0131620-00

BATTERED BUT HEALING: French tourist Christophe Brerille is in Gisborne Hospital after suffering multiple injuries when attacked by a man he gave a lift to last week. He was stabbed and punched when the man tried to steal his car. The community has got behind the injured man. Picture by Isabel Neshausen