Arrest after Kiwi taken, bashed, left for dead

By Morgan Tait

Aucklander Gordon Johnson, 60, was picked up in rural southern Poland and dumped in Slovakia
Aucklander Gordon Johnson, 60, was picked up in rural southern Poland and dumped in Slovakia

Police have detained two men they believe bashed, robbed and dumped an unconscious Kiwi hiker in Poland.

Aucklander Gordon Johnson, 60, was lured into a car he believed was a private taxi while waiting for a bus in rural southern Poland.

Its occupants bashed, robbed and left him two hours' drive away across the border of Slovakia on Sunday.

Today, police chased two men suspected of stealing fuel from a gas station, local newspaper, Weekly Podhalanski reported.

Local police say the men, a 25-year-old from Myslowice and 36-year-old from Sosnowiec, are suspects in the assault and kidnapping of Mr Johnson.

They were driving a red BMW -- matching a description from Mr Johnson -- when they were stopped by police, the paper reported.

A spokesman for police in Zakopane is quoted as saying the men are also suspected of being behind two other robberies, on June 11 and 15.

Mr Johnson's partner, Coro Daniel, told the Herald he was left with a broken nose, a suspected fractured jaw, facial stitches and severe bruising.

"It's hideous, absolutely hideous," she said.

"I just want to get him the hell out of there."

Mr Johnson was unable to fly until he received medical clearance due to a concussion.

"He was abducted across the border to another country and left for dead," Ms Daniel said.

"It was high up in the hills and it's cold there, they took his clothing and everything.

"Somehow he managed to get to the nearest farmhouse and the lady there phoned the police. It was a two-hour journey back to Poland."

Two men in the car took turns assaulting Mr Johnson despite his frequent offers of his wallet and money, Ms Daniel said.

Mr Johnson had spent months teaching throughout Burma and Southeast Asia, and was enjoying some rest after a motorcycle accident in Thailand in March.

Ms Daniel was due to meet Mr Johnson in Poland this month, but had to cancel the trip when her brother was diagnosed with cancer.

"It's so awful, it's been a difficult time with all this stuff happening. It's all pretty ghastly.

"It should be a warning for people. He was just hiking around in the hills ... it could have happened to anyone."

She said Mr Johnson, an American native who had been a New Zealand citizen for more than 35 years, was a former Marine and knew how to defend himself.

"That could have been the saving grace, he fought back very hard."

Mr Johnson was hospitalised and interviewed by police before returning to Poland on Sunday, and Ms Daniel hoped he would be back in the country by next week.

He believed the attack was prolonged because his attackers were annoyed he was not carrying more cash.

The case was being handled by Polish and Slovak police.

- Additional reporting, APNZ

- NZ Herald

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