1 Dec 2008

Stabbed taxi driver recounts events to police

6:15 pm on 1 December 2008

Police have spoken to the taxi driver stabbed while working in Auckland and say what he has told them could prove vital to their investigation.

Alexander Ershov, a 23-year-old from Russia, suffered wounds to his upper body, during the attack which took place at Bertrand Road in South Auckland around midnight on Friday.

Mr Ershov had only been working for the taxi company for a matter of weeks. He is recovering in Auckland Hospital.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Cramer said the taxi driver has a good recollection of events and what he has told police will provide a significant focus for the investigation.

Mr Ershov was to be interviewed by police on Sunday, but was deemed unfit by medical staff.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Cramer says more than 20 officers are working on the investigation.

Mr Cramer says the driver has recovered well from various operations since the attack. The stab wounds were perilously close to Mr Ershov's heart and lungs.

"It was very serious, from witness accounts it was a very nasty assault, and obviously the injuries bear that out."

Police said Mr Ershov picked up a passenger from the Viaduct area in central Auckland about 11.30pm on Friday and drove to Bertrand Road in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington, where he was assaulted and stabbed many times.

Police say Mr Ershov drove himself to a nearby service station and members of the public called an ambulance.

His manager at VIP Cabs, Abdul Qazi, said Mr Ersov had only been working for the company for two months and is the fleet's youngest driver, who is well liked by other staff.

Abdul Qazi said the assault was the most serious in the company's 12-year history and the incident has rocked the whole taxi industry.

Mr Cramer says police will analyse closed circuit television footage from the Viaduct area. He said the priority is to locate the weapon, likely to be a knife, and to find anything else that may have been discarded by the attacker.

The attacker is described as a brown-skinned man, about 1.8 metres tall and of solid build. He was wearing a grey or sandy-coloured shirt with a hood.