Crime

Violent burglars who beat up lecturer in front of his family jailed for total of 64 years

Flame-thrower in possession of one of four aggravated burglars receiving 64 years in imprisonment.

Flame-thrower found in the boot of the car of one of Paul Kohler’s attackers. Image: Met Police

Four men who forced their way into the Wimbledon home of a University professor and beat him up in front of his family have been jailed for a total of 64 years.

The violent aggravated burglary at his home in Kings Road Wimbledon on 11th August last year left 55 year old Paul Kohler with ‘horrific facial injuries.’

Facial injuries suffered by Paul Kohler

Law Lecturer Paul Kohler’s face after the violent burglary at his home in Wimbledon in August 2014.

He was held down and repeatedly beaten and kicked.

He was covered in bruises and suffered a broken nose and fractured eye socket.

The masked men kept shouting: ‘Where’s the money?’

Two of the men threatened Mr Kohler’s 50-year-old wife and attempted to tape her down to a chair.

The victim’s daughter and her boyfriend, both in their early 20s, were upstairs at the time and called 999.

The attack was described in court as drug and alcohol fuelled.

One of the burglars had a flame-thrower in the boot of his car.

It’s suspected they intended to raid another address and made a mistake.

His attackers, all from Poland, pleaded guilty to the parts they played and have been sentenced at Kingston Crown Court:

 Four men from Poland jailed for aggravated burglary

The four men jailed for a total of 64 years for the violent burglary at the home of Law Professor Paul Kohler.

  1. Top Left: Dawid Tychon, 29, of Elison Road, Streatham Vale, jailed for 13 years for aggravated burglary;
  2. Top Right: Mariusz Tomaszewski, 32, no fixed address, jailed for 19 years for aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm;
  3. Bottom Left: Oskar Pawlowicz, 30, of no fixed address jailed for 13 years for aggravated burglary;
  4. Bottom Right: Pawel Honc, 24, of no fixed address jailed for 19 years for aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector Dan O’Sullivan, of the Merton burglary squad, said:

This was a brutal attack on an innocent family. It is believed the motive was purely for financial gain, the defendants’ thinking there was cash within the property.

However, the level of violence used was utterly unnecessary and the whole incident has had a lasting effect on Mr Kohler and his family.

Thankfully this type of incident is rare in Wimbledon and the borough of Merton and I am pleased today has seen the defendants put behind bars.

Judge Susan Tapping said they chose the Kohler house to burgle because they either had an expectation of finding items of ‘significant value’ to steal, or chose the wrong address to collect a debt.

The judge said that Mr Kohler in his witness statement had shown his ‘generosity of spirit.’

Mr Kohler is head of law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and needed medical treatment lasting several months.

Shortly after the attack he was interviewed about the experience still bearing the terrible bruising on his face.

He gave the Met Police permission for the release of the full text of his impact statement provided to the sentencing judge at Kingston Crown Court:

I would like to thank the court for giving me this opportunity to make a personal statement; primarily on behalf of myself, my wife Samantha and my eldest daughter Eloise and her boyfriend Ger; but also on behalf of all those affected by this crime and in particular my other daughters Tamara, Bethany and Saskia.

The attack on our home destroyed the calm of a family evening. The pointless ferocity, and utter senselessness, endangered my family’s peace of mind, my physical and our psychological well-being and risked fermenting issues within the wider community both in Wimbledon and beyond.

Before briefly detailing those effects however, it is important to state, from the outset, that I believe all the affected parties have ultimately emerged stronger from this experience. I am optimistic that, in time, the same will even be true of the perpetrators who I genuinely hope will give us the opportunity to truly forgive them; not, I hasten to add, via the easily expressed regrets of their counsel, but in showing true remorse by providing a coherent explanation of why they attacked us and, most importantly, by genuinely turning their backs on their lives of petty and vicious criminality.

I will not dwell long on the fear I felt during the attack, both for my family upstairs and for my life downstairs. I am sure the court can well imagine the range of thoughts that went through my head during what felt like a very long eight minutes being held down, beaten and kicked, by two and sometimes three of the masked attackers. Amongst other things, I felt stupid for letting them into our house; impotent in failing to protect my loved ones; and fear, when they tried to gag me, when I temporarily lost sight in my left eye, and when they threatened to bring a heavy wooden door down on my head, particularly as I had only just recovered from a heart attack a few months previously. The pain and trauma I suffered that night and in hospital over the next week was worse than anything I have ever experienced and I had repeated nightmares and flashbacks for months afterwards.

Physically I suffered a fractured eye socket, a broken nose and extensive bruising and loss of blood necessitating a number of transfusions. Despite press reports to the contrary an operation to repair my eye socket was cancelled at the last moment due to concerns about my recent heart attack. This has resulted in a degree of permanent double vision as the operation would only have been effective if it had taken place within a few days of the fracture occurring. I would not want to exaggerate the extent of this impairment but it does affect me in certain situations, when looking to the very left. This includes: crossing the road; addressing individual students in Socratic lecture classes; and, most obviously, when parallel parking (although I at least now have an excuse for any subsequent wayward positioning!).

Paradoxically the physical nature of my injuries has helped me address the psychological trauma, for, as my body has mended and the bruises subside, I have had a graphic and ongoing reminder of my recovery. The same is not the case for the others in the house and is particularly true for Eloise who, for the duration of the attack was locked in her bedroom, thinking she was hearing her parents’ murder. It is, of course, no exaggeration to say it was down to the quick-thinking of Eloise and Ger, in hiding so that they could call the police, that saved me from what could have been a far worse fate. I earnestly hope that my public acknowledgement of both the debt Samantha and I owe them, and our pride in what they did, will assist her in moving on from that night despite the nightly reminder when she goes to bed.

Samantha also suffered very real trauma that evening which has had an on-going effect on her well-being. She was obviously terrified to be confronted by two masked men on the landing and forced to lie down with her face covered and threatened with violence when she sought to go to my aid. She now feels nervous and vulnerable in her own house, and is constantly reminded of that evening whenever she walks out of our bedroom. She has on-going nightmares of the trauma she suffered hearing me being beaten and often lies in bed awake fearing intruders.

That said, Eloise and Samantha, like our other daughters Tamara, Bethany and Saskia, are robust characters and none of them have been cowed by the experience or the knowledge of what happened. However, one cannot simply forget such an attack, which has made us all feel much less secure in the house, particularly as the perpetrators have never provided a coherent explanation as to why we were targeted. On a day-to-day basis this means that when, for example, there is a knock at the door in the evening, or we hear voices outside in the street, each of us feel apprehensive. In the same vein, Samantha and I are now also reluctant to leave any of the children alone in the house, even though the youngest, Saskia, will be 18 in June.

We consequently feel aggrieved that the mindless action of the perpetrators has undermined the security of what has been a wonderfully happy family home for over two decades. That said, we have had no thoughts of moving house and are adamant we will not to succumb to the perpetrators’ intimidation. We do, however, want to put this behind us and to do so successfully need to understand why we were attacked. I consequently want to say directly 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 why we were targeted.

Finally I would like to say something about the effects on the wider community. An attack such as this puts people in fear of the one place they should feel most secure; namely their home. That is, I believe, why the case received so much publicity and, whilst most commentators restricted themselves to the relevant issues, allowed some to push an anti-Polish agenda which sullied the name of a proud and honourable nation. My inbox has been inundated with emails from, amongst many others, the Polish community in particular, apologising for what the attackers did. I would, on behalf of my family, consequently 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 with immigration, and were simply an example of mindless thuggery.

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