Serepisos fight at races 'one-on-one'

OUCH: Sympathy for Terry Serepisos after the fight at the Wellington Cup meeting at Trentham.
OUCH: Sympathy for Terry Serepisos after the fight at the Wellington Cup meeting at Trentham.

Police have cast doubt on claims by Terry Serepisos that he was attacked and kicked in the head by five Wellington Cup racegoers.

Hutt Valley area commander Inspector Mike Hill said witnesses interviewed by police said only the bankrupt former property developer and another man were involved in the fight at Trentham Racecourse on Saturday.

Other people intervened, including several young women in Mr Serepisos' entourage who pushed the other man away, but there was no evidence anyone else laid a blow.

"It was a one-on-one situation," Mr Hill said. "Around the kicks in the head, that was not information that was given by anyone at the scene."

Yesterday, the other man involved in the fracas, who repeatedly refused to give his name, disputed Mr Serepisos's claim that he was jumped by five men.

"It was me and only me. He hit me, and I defended myself."

Mr Serepisos's version of events was designed to garner sympathy, he said. "It's a better read than he got beaten back by a 50-year-old man."

At this stage, police were not looking at laying charges, Mr Hill said. "If the information had extended to kicks in the head, we would have treated it differently."

He confirmed both men had been drinking, but only Mr Serepisos was ejected by racecourse security. The other man remained at the races and did not cause any further problems.

"It would appear that this incident wouldn't have happened if the people weren't affected by alcohol. It gave the bravado to say certain stuff, and the bravado to get in people's face."

Mr Serepisos, one of whose companies used to sponsor the Wellington Cup, stuck to his guns yesterday, restating that multiple people assaulted him.

"It was his friend that knocked me on the side of the head."

On Saturday, Mr Serepisos said he would lay charges, but he had changed his mind yesterday. "I don't need to get into a ‘he said, I said'. I don't need this at the moment."

Both men agreed the fracas started after a comment from the unnamed man about Mr Serepisos's lost fortune, suggesting he did not have enough money to give to a charity collection.

After that, the versions differ, with each casting himself as the victim.

Mr Serepisos contends he was hit first, but the other man says the former tycoon punched him in the face.

Mr Hill said witnesses also gave differing accounts.

After the fight, Mr Serepisos had to be carried away and appeared dazed and disoriented.

The other man, who said he was involved in the property business but had not had direct dealings with Mr Serepisos, believed the former developer had given the industry a "bad name".

Mr Serepisos used to own the Wellington Phoenix football club and was behind many Wellington property developments. He was declared bankrupt in September 2011.

Contact Ben Heather
Social Issues reporter
Twitter: @BHeatherJourno

The Dominion Post