19 Aug 2015

Nelson man describes chemical attack

6:46 pm on 19 August 2015

A well-known homeless man in Nelson has described an attack that saw solvents poured down his throat while he slept.

Lewis Stanton outside the Nelson courthouse with Barney.

Lewis Stanton, who says he has spent years clashing with authorities, with his horse-drawn vehicle in 2014. Photo: RNZ / Alison Hossain

Lewis Reginald Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, was sleeping rough outside the entrance to the council office about 6.45am today when the attack occurred.

He told Checkpoint the first thing he felt was a drip on his forehead

"I knew it was a dry place where I was sleeping. And I saw this joker running out of the alcove with a red jersey on. I started breathing in toxins, burning my throat, and then later on it went down into my chest and I'm still having trouble breathing."

Mr Stanton, who is in Nelson Hospital with solvent burns to his mouth and throat, said he thought he was going to die.

"Who knows what it could have been? It could have been some sort of paint-thinner or paint itself - anything like that. I didn't think I was going to make it."

Constable Nick Kempthorne said police were treating the attack extremely seriously.

"This is a cowardly attack with potentially serious consequences and we are very keen to find out who is responsible," he said.

The police would like to speak to anyone who was in the area of the Trafalgar Street-Halifax Street intersection about that time.

They would also like to hear from anyone who has CCTV footage of the stretch of Trafalgar Street between Bridge Street and Halifax Street.

Anyone with information should call Constable Kempthorne on 03 546 3840. Information can also be given by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.