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new windsor dairy stabbing: victim, shopkeeper daxa patel on reopening

WARNING: Graphic content.

The shopkeeper victims of a brutal Auckland dairy attack have spoken out for the first time, recounting the ordeal where one suffered 15 stab wounds to the chest, neck and face.

Daxa Patel, 54, told the Herald the attack at New Windsor Dairy on 5 October, which left her moderately injured and her husband, Suresh Patel, 64, hospitalised and needing brain surgery, was still fresh in her mind.

"It's painful to remember," she said.

Their son, Ravi Patel, described to the Herald what his parents had survived: Daxa Patel was on the phone in a backroom when she heard her husband screaming.

"Next thing, she saw blood on the floor, then the offender stabbing my dad. She panicked, she freaked out and she starts screaming for help and trying to grab the knife.

"She saw it happen in front of her eyes. She grabbed the knife. That's where she sustained her injuries, on her hand between her thumb and index finger. She did her absolute best, grabbing the mop and hitting him [the offender]."

Neurosurgeons had to remove a knife fragment from his father's brain where he had been stabbed. The deepest cut was to Suresh Patel's left cheek, which "pretty much fell apart", and his right eyelid was swollen shut, his son said.

"My dad said, 'He only came in to kill me'," Ravi Patel said of the offender's motivation.

"This is quite traumatic but he is a very strong individual. He has a very strong heart, and my mum as well. My sister and I, we've told them it's enough, of course [we don't want them working anymore]. They discussed it, mum's feeling okay to come back and dad's feeling okay but he physically can't."

The 24-year-old man accused of stabbing the Patels, Mitchell Lam - who was on bail for another incident this year when he allegedly stormed the New Windsor Dairy - died in police custody four days later.

The shop remained closed for 25 days after the incident and only reopened this Tuesday.

Daxa Patel said two family friends were helping keep the shop and she would only be in for about two hours on Wednesday.

She said relatives in India were anxious to hear about the incident and how the pair were recovering.

Two witnesses of the stabbing said they were terrified the offender would come after them as they watched from a neighbouring property as he staggered out of the shop.

A 16-year-old and a 15-year-old, as well as a 10-year-old sibling, were watching television at home as the incident unfolded outside their window.

"He came out of the shops and we were scared because we thought he was going to run towards the house," one of the teens told the Herald.

The children then saw paramedics carry the victim out of the shop on a stretcher. A bloodied woman was also seen being led to a waiting ambulance.

Customers inside the dairy intervened and stopped the assault, a move police Detective Inspector Glen Baldwin said may have saved Suresh Patel's life.

"Our advice is for the public to avoid putting themselves in danger but we absolutely commend their bravery and courage in stepping in to assist this morning," he said at the time.

"There are some courageous people in our community and their actions may well have saved the man's life. This was a violent and vicious attack and support is being offered to everyone involved."

Police arrested Lam the day after the attack and charged him with two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one charge of resisting police.

Police launched an investigation after he died in custody on 9 October.

Relieving Auckland City district commander Acting Superintendent Sunny Patel said officers found Lam unresponsive in a cell at about 10.56am on 6 October - a day after the dairy incident.

Sunny Patel said police immediately administered first aid and called an ambulance.

Lam was then transported to Auckland City Hospital but died on 9 October, police said.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.


First published on www.nzherald.co.nz

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