Burglar guilty over pensioner left to freeze

A CAREER criminal left free to kill an 83-year-old woman he tied up during a burglary has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Kuba Dlugosz was on the run from authorities in Poland when he broke into spinster Eveline Kelmenson’s north London home.

Despite twice being arrested in the weeks before the burglary, police did not identify him as a fugitive because he gave them a different name.

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Miss Kelmenson, dressed in her night clothes, was left bound and gagged on the floor of her bedroom and died slowly from hypothermia after the break-in at her £1m, five-bedroom house in Stamford Hill in November 2008.

Her body was found five weeks later.

Dlugosz was caught when his DNA was found on chisels used to break into the house through the basement. A subsequent fingerprint search showed he was the subject of a European arrest warrant because he had absconded from jail in Poland.

Police insisted that officers investigating the earlier, less serious incidents would not have had the resources to check his background and that there was no routine mechanism for checking someone against European warrants.

His last arrest was on November 13, two weeks before he broke into Miss Kelmenson’s home and left her for dead.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, told a jury at the Old Bailey: “It was winter and it was cold and because she was alone in the house, unless she could free herself, she had no means of escape or of alerting others to her plight. It must have been a terrifying experience. Over the hours and possibly the days to come she died a slow death from hypothermia.

“At 83 years old, Miss Kelmenson did not, as these men (including another accused) should surely have realised, have the physical strength to loosen or escape from the bindings. Most tragically, because she led an independent but solitary life, neither did anyone else come to her aid.”

Miss Kelmenson’s body was found by her niece on New Year’s Day when relatives became worried because they had not heard from her. The house had been ransacked and the victim robbed of her mother’s gold wedding ring and gold necklace.

Dlugosz, 33, of no fixed address, was convicted of manslaughter, burglary and robbery by Old Bailey jurors.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on July 22.

The jury could not reach a decision on charges against a second defendant Szymon Wyrostek, 26, of Tottenham, north London. Wyrostek will have a retrial.

Dlugosz, originally from Bialystok, Poland, had been jailed in 2000 for two night-time robberies at schools in the city, in which caretakers were tied up.

While on home leave in December 2004 he took part in another robbery and received a further sentence.

Yet he was given home leave again in 2007, during which he absconded to Britain with more than five years still to serve in jail.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued in June 2008 in the name of Piotr Bugucki – the name he used in Poland.

On October 22, 2008, he broke into Sharon’s Bakery in Stamford Hill, a stone’s throw from Miss Kelmenson’s home, tearing a glove during the break-in and leaving DNA at the scene – but he was not linked to the crime until later.

Dlugosz was however arrested during an alleged attempt to burgle the home of an elderly woman in the early hours of November 9, in Ilford, east London.

He was charged with and admitted criminal damage after breaking a window at the property. He was fined £100.

Tom Little, prosecuting, said: “He provided the name Kuba Dlugosz and it didn’t come up on the system. If he had provided the name Piotr Bugucki he would never have been released.”

Four days later, on November 13, Dlugosz again came to the attention of the police when he was accused, with another man, of trying to force entry to an address in Tottenham, and arrested.

But the complaint was dropped and no further action was taken.

Miss Kelmenson was the last of 10 brothers and sisters who had lived at the property, but led a solitary lifestyle and did not take part in community activities.