September 24 2017, updated 6:19pm

Assault victim tells of terrifying ordeal

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009
BEATEN UP: Lera and her boyfirend Denis Khotchenko, who were beaten up in an attack on Auckland's North Shore.

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A young Auckland couple who were attacked with a metal baseball bat have spoken of their terrifying ordeal at the hands of their attackers, saying it was not a robbery gone wrong.

Denis Khotchenko, 25 from the Auckland suburb of Glenfield and his 20 year-old girlfriend Valeriya Nesterova were confronted by attackers who asked them "Have you ever met a real gangster?"

Mr Khotchenko took up to eight blows to the head before his attackers turned on his girlfriend, fracturing her skull and eye socket, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

The couple are recovering in Middlemore Hospital following the violent beating which left them both needing plastic surgery.

They had been out late Monday night and stopped at Milford Beach for a drink in their car when a man approached the driver's open window.

"We started talking and he asked me for a beer," said Mr Khotchenko.

"I gave him a beer and then two more (men) came up."

The men asked Mr Khotchenko what he was doing in the carpark and he told them he was just having a drink with his girlfriend.

He then asked them what they were doing and they replied: "We are just walking around bashing people".

Despite thinking it was a joke, the couple started feeling uncomfortable and Mr Khotchenko reached for his keys. They never reached the ignition.

"Two seconds later I had two hard hits on my head with a metal object.

"They hit me so hard that the third blow I didn't feel any pain."

Mr Khotchenko estimates he was hit about eight times before he opened the door and tried to get out.

"I got out of the car but I could barely stand on my feet. One of them was in front of me, another two were hitting my girlfriend.

"She was unconscious for about three seconds, then opened her eyes and started screaming, then they hit her again so she started to run.

"I wasn't able to move. One of the guys was shouting at me, asking for cash. He just hit me again with a metal bar – that's when I went from the carpark to the sand. The most awful thing was the helpless feeling."

The couple ran off in different directions.

Ms Nesterova headed towards a river inlet where she hid on the ground.

She swam through the river before climbing up a small bank and into the home of JP Pat Sampson where the police were called.

A badly injured and dazed Mr Khotchenko made his way back to his car to find everyone gone.

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"I thought they might have taken her with them."

He then used his cellphone, which had been left in his car, to call the police.

Ms Nesterova told her boyfriend she was driven through the river inlet by fear.

"She knew she could get away from them but she said she was running because she thought they were going to kill me."

Mr Khotchenko, who has internal bleeding, cuts to his head, dents in his skull, a fractured thumb and a black eye, said he was speaking out because he wanted people to know the attack wasn't a robbery gone wrong.

"It's complete crap," he said, adding that neither his very visible cellphone nor Mercedes was taken and the request for cash came long after the first blows. "It wasn't a robbery that went wrong, it was more like a bashing."

Ericka Rancourt, 21, and Oskar Carroll, 25, were also attacked that night about 4am as they were walking home along Lake Rd on Tuesday. She required neurosurgery and he had serious head injuries.


* Yesterday four teenage men accused of aggravated robbery appeared in the North Shore District Court and were granted interim name suppression.


They were remanded in custody to will reappear in the same court on January 24.

A 16-year-old youth charged in relation to the incidents appeared in North Shore Youth Court and was bailed to reappear on January 23.


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