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Bus driver bashed over free-ride offer

Date

Lachlan McLean and Megan Levy

Small change ... Police have released a CCTV image of the man they wish to speak to.

Small change ... Police have released a CCTV image of the man they wish to speak to. Photo: Victoria Police

A bus passenger who tried to pay for his fare using small change launched a violent attack on the driver when he offered him a free ride in Melbourne’s east.

Police have released an image of the man, believed to be aged in his early 20s, who became aggressive after attempting to pay for his ride using five and 10 cent coins.

Senior Constable Andrew Thomas said the 42-year-old driver stopped to pick up passengers on the corner of Whittens Lane and Doncaster Road in Doncaster about 8.10pm on Tuesday.

The offender climbed on the bus and began counting out five and 10-cent coins to pay for his fare, delaying other passengers who were trying to get on the bus.

"The bus driver has refused to take the money and offered the male a free ride instead,” Constable Thomas said.

The man then turned on the driver, punching him repeatedly in the face, causing bruising, swelling and minor cuts to his face.

Police believe the man exchanged words with the driver in Mandarin before the passenger attacked.

“The whole incident occurred over approximately three or four minutes and there was some sort of conversation,” Constable Thomas said.

A good Samaritan came to the aid of the driver after the attack, and police have appealed for that person to come forward.

Police also have released a CCTV image of a man they would like to question over the attack, and have appealed for anyone who knows him to come forward.

The man was of Asian appearance and had a medium build, short dark hair and at the time of the attack was wearing tan coloured pants, a grey T-shirt with a black design on the front, a dark hoodie and glasses.

Anyone with any information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.

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