A cancer survivor from Whanganui was viciously assaulted and left for dead on Smithfield Road almost four weeks ago.

Richard Warner was having a good night, he was drinking with his mates and celebrating a Sydney Roosters NRL victory before deciding to walk home.

But he never made it.

It was just after midnight when he passed an address on Smithfield Road – a road he used to live on – when a voice called 'yo' from a property off the street.


Warner, 36, replied 'yo' in kind and almost immediately, he was surrounded.

"It was really dark, I don't remember any of their faces, but there was probably anywhere between eight and 12 of them," Warner says.

"It was horrible, I've never ever had any feeling like it."

One of the assailants took charge, he instructed the others take Warner's phone and wallet while another even demanded that Warner take off his shoes and give them to him.

The offenders then began pushing Warner across the road between themselves and he remembers hearing laughter as they did so.

"Then one of them said it was my lucky night and they were giving me a chance to run. I ran, turned back over my shoulder and then woke up in hospital.

"I was shit scared, I was absolutely terrified, when I woke up in the hospital, I realized I had been running for my life."

Warner was discovered face down and unconscious on Smithfield Road by a passerby at 2am on Sunday, September 9.


The man called emergency services and waited with Warner until they arrived, where he was taken to hospital with multiple facial fractures and almost no teeth.

In the weeks that followed, he has had his nose straightened and with the removal of his damaged bottom teeth, has only four remaining.

A metal plate has been inserted, held in place by 17 screws where his right cheek used to be.

"They could have killed me. I was pretty lucky that I got found when I did, I was pretty messed up, any longer and who knows?"

"The pain's still here, the whole right side of my face from my cheekbone down to my chin is numb, but they said that's just because of the surgery."

Warner is going for another consultation on October 18 and is waiting to get some new teeth as he is currently being fed through a straw.

The effects have been as psychological as they have physical.

"If I go out, I could walk past them in the street at any time and that bugs me. I haven't really been anywhere since it happened actually, I've got a bit of anxiety," Warner says.

"I go to UCOL and they could be UCOL students or anything."

It isn't the first time Warner has faced adversity as he survived a battle with blood and bone cancer with chemotherapy treatment throughout 2012 and 2013.

"I had a tumor in my head. I was lucky they didn't hit me where that was because my mastoid bone is missing and it's like a hole straight to my brain," Warner says.

"They had to take it out because the cancer was in it, it had gone all discoloured and was pressing up on my brain and skull."

Warner's sister in Melbourne started a GoFundMe campaign which raised $600 for him to cover transport, accommodation and food costs for trips to get surgery in New Plymouth.

"I've had so much support from my family, my sister that lives in Melbourne said she wants me to go over there.

"But Whanganui is a town for me that no matter where I move, I always come back to it. It's my home town."

Despite this, Warner said he would never be able to walk alone at night ever again and feels as though he will never even be able to visit that area of the city.

Whanganui police appealed to the public for witnesses on the Wednesday following the assault, but have no new updates at this time.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has relevant information is urged to contact Detective Greg Gray on (06) 215 4138.