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Mother throttled by lover talks to the Times

PUBLISHED: 12:59 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:49 25 August 2010

ATTACKED: Kelly Johnson just days after being strangled.

ATTACKED: Kelly Johnson just days after being strangled.

A YOUNG mother who went into a coma for three days after her ex-boyfriend strangled her in front of her toddler has spoken of her horrifying ordeal.

CAGED: Mitchell Zelder.

A YOUNG mother who went into a coma for three days after her ex-boyfriend strangled her in front of her toddler has spoken of her horrifying ordeal.

Kelly Johnson, 22, formerly from Erith, was throttled by brutal Mitchell Zelder, 29, who she had dumped months before.

She was found unconscious with bloodshot eyes by her mother the day after the attack in July last year after her four-year-old son answered the intercom saying: "Mummy's dead, nanny".

Last Friday, Zelder, of Southwell Close, Chafford Hundred, Grays, Essex, was sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder, with a minimum of nine years, at Woolwich Crown Court.

Miss Johnson, who has suffered from short-term memory loss and daily migraines since the attack, said: "Nine years is enough for me. I don't care what happens to him. I still don't hate him. I don't want to be anywhere near him. I don't care for him."

When she regained consciousness in hospital, she did not recognise her mother or son and thought she was in labour.

She has no recollection of the attack on July 27, but has since been told that Zelder snapped when she refused to get back together with him.

He then stole Kelly's phone and texted her mother pretending to be her and asking her to pick up her son the next morning.

Miss Johnson added: "My little boy still calls him 'dad'. I am not happy about it but he doesn't know any different so I try and ignore it.

"I shouldn't really be here. He should have been charged with murder because I shouldn't be here."

Miss Johnson met Zelder at Zen's nightclub in Dartford before embarking on relationship that lasted just under two years.

She dumped him when he started pushing her during an argument but has no recollection of the attack.

She said: "We weren't together but he still came round to see my little boy.

"All I know is what he told me. I don't know what mood he was in. I spoke to him a week after I got out of hospital and he told me what happened. He said he was talking about getting back together.

"I said he was more than welcome to see my son if he wanted, but we were not getting back together. I asked him to leave and he started getting upset. He strangled me then and left me there."

Whilst on bail, Zelder contacted Miss Johnson through Facebook and Hotmail and threatened to hurt her and her family if she co-operated with the police investigation.

When he was rearrested, he denied stealing the mobile phone and claimed that someone else sent the messages to her.

But he was charged after co-operation with Facebook and Hotmail and CCTV footage showed him traveling through the Dartford tunnel in the direction of his home on the evening of the assault.

Acting Detective Sergeant Nadeem Zia, from Bexley Police Public Protection Group, said: "Mitchell Zelder could not accept that his relationship with the victim had come to an end and he continually intimidated and harassed her making her life a misery.

"She could have died as a result of what Zelder did to her. I hope today's sentencing enables her to move on with her life knowing that he is behind bars."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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