Pensioner bashed for not wearing mask

By Simon Ruppert

A Benalla pensioner was left covered in blood after a brazen daylight assault in Bridge St on Friday afternoon.

A witness who contacted the Ensign said the man, who was in his 70s, was attacked by a man who looked middle-aged, for not wearing a face-mask.

The victim, however, told the witness he had a medical exemption due to asthma, and did not need to wear one.

The witness, who asked not to be named, described the assault as violent and prolonged; and the attacker an angry man.

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“Bridge St was quite empty for a Friday afternoon,” the witness said.

“I was peacefully looking for a book inside the door of the newsagents when I heard a noise.

“It was a woman screaming at the top of her voice shouting for someone to stop.”

The woman in question was with the perpetrator and was pleading with him to stop attacking the helpless victim.

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“Initially it looked like two men fighting then one of them started really going into the other one, and backed him right up against the seat outside the newsagents,” the witness said.

“The victim went to ground and the attacker didn't stop.

“The lady was screaming at him all the time to leave the old man alone, and eventually the victim managed to resist.”

The incident occurred on Bridge St at 1.30pm on Friday, August 7 - image from google maps

With that the attacker and the woman ran up the laneway near the newsagents towards the Denny St car park and disappeared from sight.

“The old fella was in shock and had blood pouring down his face,” the witness said.

“I said to him ‘are you alright?’ But he was confused.

“It was pretty full-on, so I asked if he would like a chair, and the newsagent got a chair for him.

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“Then someone said we’d better call the police, this is bad.

“The police came quickly which was good as there were not many people to offer assistance as the street was so empty.”

The witness said one of the shocking things was that the man and woman, who she described as middle-aged, were well dressed.

“They didn't look like yobbos,” the witness said.

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“They looked like normal, middle-aged people to me, but to be honest it happened so quickly I think I'd struggle to identify them if I saw them again.

“He was such an angry man and obviously has a problem.

“I felt so sorry for the old man, his glasses had fallen off, luckily they hadn't broken.

“I asked if he knew the attacker, and he said he had never seen him before.

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“He had just approached him and started shouting at him about not wearing a mask.”

Benalla Police posted to Facebook on Saturday, asking for witnesses, with this statement:

“Benalla Police are investigating an assault that occurred on Friday, August 7, 2020 at approximately 1.30 pm.

“The incident occurred in the CBD between the Target store, and the Bendigo Bank. So if you (witnessed) the assault or have any information please contact the Benalla police station on 5760 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

Benalla police have been contacted for comment and this article will be updated when they respond.