Indian-origin trainee teacher dies after assault outside McDonald's in New Zealand

A 25-year-old Indian-origin trainee teacher in New Zealand died today after being punched outside a fast food outlet in central Auckland.

Tarun Asthana, who was on life support in hospital since being assaulted on Saturday morning, died in Auckland City Hospital today, police said. He was surrounded by family and friends at the time of his death, local media reported quoting police officials.

Asthana was returning from a night of clubbing with friends when he was punched.

The brawl started after Asthana complimented the dress that the offender's girlfriend was wearing.

Asthana was knocked to the ground by a single punch and lost consciousness after his head struck the pavement outside a McDonald's in downtown Queen St, the reports said.

The trainee teacher was rushed to hospital and placed on life support. He, however, succumbed to his injuries.

Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Florence said on Sunday that the attacker had been in McDonald's with several other men and women and the group had left straight after the attack.

Police yesterday arrested 27-year-old Grenville MacFarland and charged him with assaulting Asthana. He was produced today in the Auckland District Court. His charge has not yet been updated to reflect Asthana's death. MacFarland has been remanded on bail until November 15.

Inquiries were continuing and police were seeking any information from anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed the assault.

Sam Matthews, a friend of Asthana, said he was the "most nice, peaceful guy out". Asthana was training to become a primary school teacher at the University of Auckland. He worked in hospitality part-time. His former employer at The Falls Restaurant, where he served front of house, said Asthana was a "kind, loyal, fun- loving guy. He was always respectful and nice to be around."

McFarland could face more serious charges, according to local police.

His lawyer John Corby raised objection to media reports of describing the attack as a "brutal assault", saying that was not a fair description.

McFarland did not enter a plea and was remanded on bail until November 15. Bail was not opposed by police. The judge imposed very strict bail conditions, but said they did not need to be read in open court, the reports said. A statement issued by Royal New Zealand Navy confirmed McFarland's appearance at the Auckland District Court. "The Navy is supporting the New Zealand police in the conduct of their investigation. No further comment will be made while the matter is before the courts," it said. PTIĀ 

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