Four men sentenced for brutal attack on lecturer Paul Kohler

Four men sentenced for brutal attack on lecturer Paul Kohler

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In August 2014, four Polish men, Pawel Honc, 23, Mariusz Tomaszewski, 32, Oskar Pawlowicz, 29 and Dawid Tychon, 29 burst into the Wimbledon home of lecturer Paul Kohler.

They subjected him to a brutal attack leaving him with life changing injuries and requiring facial reconstruction surgery. The image above of Mr Kohler demonstrates the severity of the injuries.

On 30 January 2015, they were sentenced.

What happened?

Mr Kohler opened the front door to the property and the four men burst in shouting “Where’s the money?” His wife was threatened by two of the men who tried to tie her to a chair with duct tape. Mr Kohler was knocked to the floor and one of the gang knelt above him holding a heavy wooden cabinet door, demanding to know where his money was, after which he was badly beaten, with punches and kicks “raining down” on him. He suffered a fractured eye socket, a fractured left jawbone, a broken nose and bruising that left him “utterly unrecognisable”. Mr Kohler since said that he feared for his life.

One of Kohler’s daughters locked herself in an upstairs bedroom and managed to call the police. The police arrived and managed to intervene, preventing Mr Kohler from suffering any further injuries.

Items totalling £2,000 including a Mac laptop were taken but subsequently recovered.

Offences

On 26 November, Pawel Honc, 23, and Mariusz Tomaszewski, 32, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and s.18 GBH with intent. Oskar Pawlowicz, 29 and Dawid Tychon, 29 pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary but denied causing GBH with intent.

Aggravated burglary: Theft Act 1968 s.10 maximum sentence life imprisonment.

GBH with intent: Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.18 maximum sentence life imprisonment.

Additionally, Dawid Tychon will be sentenced for driving while disqualified and possession of cocaine, amphetamines, cannabis, biperazine and other class C drugs, to which he pleaded guilty on 26 November. He faces trial for taking a vehicle without consent, handling stolen goods and going equipped for theft, to which he entered not guilty pleas.

HH Judge Tapping told the four men that “only very substantial custodial sentences will be appropriate”.

Background

Tomaszewski believed that he was at Mr Kohler’s address to “enforce a debt” on the night of the attack.

Honc was a man of previous good character who claimed to have taken part in the attack – at Tomaszewski’s request – to settle a drug debt he had with Tomaszewski.

The men have been described in the press as “career criminals”; the Daily Mail reported that Tomaszewski had already served three sentences for a gun attack, theft, burglary and drugs offences, including 8 years for burglary.

Sentence

Mr Kohler read his victim impact statement aloud to the court, details of which can be seen here. This is a power which has long been at the disposal of the courts, but only really formalised in the recent Victims Code published in 2013.  He asked the men to reveal why his family were targeted, saying that in order to move on from the attack, they needed to understand why.

The judge would have had regard to the aggravated burglary guideline (see p.3) and the s.18 GBH guideline (see p.3). Under the burglary guideline, a category 1 offence (which this undoubtedly was by virtue of the significant injuries caused and the fact the men operated in a gang) carries a range of 9-13 years. Under the s.18 guideline, a category 1 offence (again, which this is, by virtue of the nature of the injuries, the men operating as a gang and the use of a weapon) carries a range of 9-16 years.

The men were sentenced as follows:

Tomaszewski and Honc – 19 years (agg. burglary and s.18)

Pawlowicz and Tychon – 13 years (agg. burglary)

HH Judge Susan Tapping said they had targeted Mr Kohler’s house either because they had the expectation of finding items of “significant value” to steal or because they chose the wrong address to collect a debt.

Comment

It is not clear how the sentences were structured, i.e. whether for Tomaszewski and Honc consecutive sentences were imposed, and which was the lead sentence. We can assume the lead sentence was the aggravated burglary.

With credit for pleading guilty (we presume 1/3 in absence of any other information, though it may well be that the credit is reduced because it was an “overwhelming case”) the judge took a starting point of 21-27 years for the first two defendants, and 15-17 years for the second two.

Without seeing the sentencing remarks we would not wish to say more, other than that these are very long sentences for what was exceptionally serious offending. The men may well appeal but with an increasingly punitive Court of Appeal, I would be holding my breath if I were them.

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