Toddler reportedly punched in the head at supermarket

Published: 20 June 2017 Image credit: Supplied

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Police are investigating reports a toddler was punched in the head by a stranger while at a supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand.

The parents of 18-month-old Theodore say they were shopping at a Pak’nSave on Auckland’s North Shore when a stranger “lashed out at them”.

Theo's mother Shelly Maddren said she was waiting in line at the deli when a man behind her, believed to be in his 20s, became agitated before turning around and hitting her son square in the head.

She believes the man may have had an intellectual disability because he appeared to be with a carer.

Both men reportedly hurried from the store without acknowledging the incident, while fellow shoppers and staff rushed to Ms Maddren’s aid.

"He just lashed out at the first thing he saw, which was Theo," Ms Maddren said.

"(Theo) quite surprised me. He didn't cry. He was just holding his head a little bit and looking at me."

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However, the mother endured more worry when Theo started vomiting. He was taken to hospital where doctors ruled out any serious injury and said he simply had a virus.

Police are understood to be reviewing security footage as part of the investigation.

Ms Maddren said she acknowledged the attacker likely had an intellectual disability and reported the incident to police because she wanted the man to be offered his own support, according to local media.

“We don’t want it to happen again to another kids,” she added.

Supermarket owner Quintin Procter said he has since reviewed footage of the incident and said the caregiver reacted “instantly” and “physically manhandled” the man before rushing him out of the store.

Meanwhile, Thoe's father Shane Maddren explained in a Facebook post that the family is not angry, but simply wants to make the public "aware that you never know what is going to happen or when and you really do need to be watching everything."