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By Sophie Cornish
When Marcel Geros grabbed a jogger on her regular early morning run, all she thought about was stopping herself from being dragged into a park.
Ten months later the mother-of-three has spoken publicly for the first time to The Christchurch Star. She is disappointed with the sentence Geros received on Tuesday in the district court for the attack.
Geros put her in a choke hold and attempted to drag her into a park in September.
The violent repeat offender was given two-years intensive supervision for his offending on September 21 when he injured and attempted to kidnap the woman in Ilam. The sentence was imposed by Judge Raoul Neave.
At the time, police alleged the early morning attack began with Geros confronting a woman at her car in the Jellie Park car park on Ilam Rd, before fleeing on a bicycle about 5.30am.
Twenty minutes later, armed with a box cutter knife, Geros attacked and injured the 49-year-old outside Ray Blank Park on Maidstone Rd.
"It was a shocking experience being attacked from behind . . . held in a choke hold while he was attempting to drag me into the park.
"My main thought was to prevent myself from being dragged off the main road, so I resisted and struggled at the entrance, an image that I often think about now when I’m running and it frightens me every time," she said.
After fighting him off, a member of the public followed Geros in his car, saw him hide in a nearby cul-de-sac and alerted police.
The lucky escape was unfortunately not the same for another victim of Geros’ violent offending. In 2009, he was jailed for seven years and three months for savagely bashing a 73-year-old Kataia man, Alexander ‘Don’ Cameron, in his bed, in 2008.
His injuries were so bad he required full-time care for almost three years after the attack.
On Tuesday, Geros was sentenced for charges of attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to injure for the events in September.
The 27-year-old fisherman fromAvonhead, who has striking facial tattoos including ‘BPNZ’ across his forehead, had been in custody since his arrest in September.
In the 10 months since the attack, the victim said she and her family members have taken on self-defence training to protect themselves and encourages others to do the same.
"I returned back to running maybe a week after the general body aches and pains had improved. Although, my husband had to ride his bike beside me for a week.
"I do struggle to run in the mornings . . . but I remain on main roads . . . and constantly turn my head to look behind me.
"I hate running past a park area, I get jumpy and startled when someone is behind me. I have often stopped other women running to let them know to be aware of their surroundings and not wear headphones or go through parks alone in the dark," she said.
"It only takes being in the wrong place at the wrong time for a random attack to happen anywhere."
At the sentencing, Judge Neave said he expected public backlash for freeing Geros, website Court News reported.
"No doubt there will be letters to the editor demanding my resignation."
A cultural report showed Geros had come from an unfortunate background and had needed to "deal with more things than most people could even contemplate."
"He has got some incredibly complex needs and unless and until they are dealt with he is going to be a significant problem to the community. If I send him to prison, absolutely zip will happen, quite apart from the fact that he will be out before we know it. I am not prepared to contemplate that."
He said imprisonment and post-release conditions would do nothing to address community safety issues.
Instead, the judge will judicially monitor Geros with regular reports from Community Corrections while he is on intensive supervision for two years.
Special conditions include restrictions on his movements around Christchurch, keeping away from the woman he attacked, and attending medical assessments and treatments as directed. That includes treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and mental issues.
But the victim, who said she was once confident the appropriate outcome would prevail, called the sentence is "disappointing."
"Particularly based on his past history of crimes, convictions and the terrible savage attack on Mr Cameron. What message is this sending to our community? I was fortunate and lucky a good Samaritan was able to help me but what about the next person?" she said.