(cut and pasted from Stuff.co.nz 11 May 2009)
A Wellington physiotherapist has received a bravery commendation after rescuing a woman being strangled and robbed of her jewellery during a gang attack in London.
Damon Newrick, 32, was having dinner when he heard "a blood-curdling scream" from downstairs outside his flat in Highgate, north London. He described it as one of "those screams which are just `someone's in trouble'. It was awful".
He rushed down two floors to the lobby, passing other tenants who stood by, to find three "quite large" men strangling a woman and ripping jewellery from her ears. The woman was covered in blood from where her attackers responsible for about 25 similar attacks tore out her £10,000 (NZ$25,000) earrings.
"I yelled at them and told them to get the eff off her," the St Patrick's College Silverstream old boy said from London yesterday.
"Two of them scarpered, one hung around. I hit him a couple of times in the head. I thought, `Hit first, ask questions second'. I chucked him out the door. He was yelling for his mates. Two of them came back.
"I've always been quite good at maths I thought, `There's three of you and one of me. It's not very good odds.'
"I jumped back behind the [lobby] door, which is reinforced glass, and shut the door on them. They started trying to kick it in.
"She [the victim] was still on the ground, quite dazed, so I couldn't run. I held the door for probably 20 seconds or so while they kicked it in and the glass started to give way." He grabbed the woman and "chucked her up the stairs".
One of the attackers had dropped his car keys inside the building. "He dropped them when I hit him. I thought they were after me: `Man, they are going to give me a hiding."' The men grabbed the keys and fled.
Mr Newrick will be a witness this month when two of the men stand trial for about 25 similar attacks. In each case women were strangled unconscious and their jewellery taken.
The attack happened in May last year but Mr Newrick received his commendation from police in the past fortnight.
Mr Newrick was a physiotherapist in Wellington until moving to London 4 1/2 years ago.
The woman, who was comforted by his wife, Lynn, after the attack, later moved out of the block.
His commendation states it is for "exceptional bravery and courage in tackling three extremely violent criminals in the process of committing a horrific crime".
Mr Newrick said one reason he immediately stepped in was because of his upbringing. His father, Paul Newrick, was a Hutt Valley police officer and detective for 21 years.
"That's just what we got taught you help where you can. The one thing that went through my mind was, `I can't ring up Dad and say I saw this thing happen but didn't really help."'
Paul Newrick said the family was rapt. "I'm not surprised at his reaction and I'm extremely proud of the fact he acted single-handedly in a dangerous situation."