Bashed officer's condition improving

An off-duty police officer beaten unconscious when he tried to break up a fight near his house in Tuakau, south of Auckland, was today reported to be improving.

Constable John Connolly, 39, was in a stable condition and out of intensive care, a Middlemore Hospital spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, police said they were continuing the process of interviewing witnesses to the incident on Friday and the number of staff involved in the inquiry had been boosted.

Mr Connolly, who is stationed at Papakura, suffered serious injuries as he and other residents attempted to intervene in a fight.

He was set upon by a group of youths, and the injuries he received included a fractured skull, multiple facial fractures, a collapsed lung, a broken jaw and a broken ankle. When he was taken to hospital, his colleagues feared he could die.

Counties Manukau district commander Superintendent Mike Bush said yesterday police had a good idea who the offenders were.

About 30 or 40 people were present and they would all be interviewed, he said.

"We already have encouraging information which would suggest who the offenders for the attack are and will certainly be speaking to those people within a very short time." Mr Bush said police were particularly concerned that groups of people could turn on members of the public doing a good deed, regardless of whether they were off-duty police officers or not.

He said anyone who saw the fight should call police, who were particularly interested to talk to a bus driver and a truck driver believed to have witnessed the incident.

The Sunday Star-times reported today that a group of youths had gathered opposite Mr Connolly's house about 3.40pm on Friday to watch a fight between two girls.

When Mr Connolly went to disperse the group, he was allegedly king-hit from behind before others joined in the attack.


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