26 Jan 2009

Appeal for sightings of hitchhiker after taxi attack

6:41 pm on 26 January 2009

Police investigating the kidnapping of a Taranaki taxi driver are appealing for information about a hitchhiker seen in the area.

Tony Brosnan, 49, from Waitara was found in the boot of his car at Urenui at 8.45am on Friday. He had been beaten and suffered severe head injuries.

He remains in a critical but stable condition on life support in Taranaki Base Hospital.

Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward says a hitchhiker was seen trying to get a ride from Urenui to New Plymouth during the hours the attack is likely to have occured.

He is asking anyone who may have seen the man, or who may have picked him up, to come forward.

Fingerprints have been taken from the taxi as part of a forensic examination and police are waiting for an analysis of the evidence.

Mr Brosnan had been working an overnight shift and his last call to his dispatcher at Egmont City Cabs was before midnight on Thursday.

His taxi was then seen in New Plymouth at 4.30am on Friday and found in a carport at Urenui Primary School, 30km northeast of New Plymouth, four hours later.

Tony Brosnan, who has worked for Egmont City Cabs for six years, has two adult children and one grandson.

Call for cameras in cabs

Company owner Ted Cooper said the attack has devastated the staff at the firm. He said it proves that taxis need to be fitted with cameras for the drivers' protection as offenders might think twice if they knew they were being filmed.

Taxi Federation chief executive Tim Reddish says similar attacks could be prevented if if cameras were made compulsory in every cab.

A report is being prepared for the Minister of Transport on making cameras compulsory in all taxis, but Mr Reddish says he would like to see it happen sooner rather than later.