Burglars ‘enjoyed’ beating academic

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Published: Thursday 29th January 2015 by The News Editor

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A gang of Polish burglars seemed to enjoy “raining” down punches on a university professor as they raided his house, a court has heard.

Paul Kohler, 55, suffered a fractured eye socket, a fracture to his left jawbone, a broken nose and bruising that left him “utterly unrecognisable” during the attack at his home in Wimbledon, south London.

His wife, Samantha MacArthur, was also threatened by two of the four intruders on the night of August 11 last year.

As the gang’s sentencing got under way at Kingston Crown Court, prosecutor Charles Evans said that Mr Kohler was left in fear for his life during the onslaught.

Mr Evans said that the attack began when Mr Kohler went to answer the door while his wife, daughter Eloise and her boyfriend Geraint were upstairs.

The four men burst in wearing scarves to conceal their identity and blue latex gloves, the prosecutor said, with the first of them “practically falling into the hallway”.

Mr Evans said: “No words were used, nor threats, just a rain of punches described by Mr Kohler as harder than anything he had ever experienced.”

One of the men demanded “where’s the money?” and Mr Kohler screamed “you’ve got the wrong address”.

Mr Kohler, who is head of law at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, was pushed to the floor and one of the men sat on him and repeatedly punched him in the face while another man kicked him in the head.

“Mr Kohler says that the male sitting on him seemed to be enjoying himself and made him fear for his life,” Mr Evans said.

During the five-minute attack, one of the men also threatened Mr Kohler by holding a wooden cabinet door over his head ready to swing it down on him.

Two of the men ran upstairs and confronted Ms MacArthur, pushing her to the floor and covering her face so she could not see what was happening.

When she thought she was alone she tried to move, but one of the men grabbed her and told her in an Eastern European accent that they did not want to hurt but would do so if she moved.

Eloise and Geraint were able to hide in her bedroom and lock the door while they called the police.

Mr Evans said: “Mr Kohler has absolutely no idea why the defendants targeted him and believes the defendants came to the wrong address.

“Subsequent checks showed that several items had been taken – an Apple Mac laptop, an HP laptop and two mobile phones.

“The total value of these items is said to be approximately £2,000. They were however recovered in due course.”

Pawel Honc, 24, of no fixed abode, and Mariusz Tomaszewski, 32, of Crusoe Road, Mitcham, south London, have admitted causing Mr Kohler grievous bodily harm with intent and aggravated burglary.

Two other men, Oskar Pawlowicz, 30, of Pitcairn Road in Mitcham, and Dawid Tychon, 29, of no fixed abode, have both pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary.

As Mr Kohler delivered his witness statement from the witness stand flanked by Ms MacArthur, he called for the defendants to explain the “real reason we were targeted”.

“The attack on our home destroyed the calm of a family evening,” he said.

“The pointless ferocity and utter senselessness endangered my family’s peace of mind, my physical and our psychological well-being and risked fomenting issues within the wider community both in Wimbledon and beyond.”

Mr Kohler said that although the “mindless action of the perpetrators has undermined the security of what has been a wonderfully happy family home for over two decades” the family had no thoughts of moving.

But he added: “We do however want to put this behind us and to do so successfully we need to understand why we were attacked.

“I consequently want to say to each of the attackers that, if you are genuinely remorseful, you will waste no more time in telling us, through your counsel if you wish, the real reason we were targeted.”

He also said that the attack had “allowed some to push an anti-Polish agenda which sullied the name of a proud and honourable nation”.

“I would, on behalf of my family, like to finish by thanking our many well-wishers, both within and beyond the Polish community, and to stress that the actions of the perpetrators had nothing to do with immigration, and were simply an example of mindless thuggery,” he said.

Published: Thursday 29th January 2015 by The News Editor

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