A self-confessed heroin addict has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a frail 100-year-old Holocaust survivor while attempting to steal her purse.
Zofija Kaczan was on her way to church when Artur Waszkiewicz took her handbag and knocked her to the floor, leaving her bleeding in the middle of the road on May 28 last year.
At Waszkiewicz’s sentencing hearing on Thursday, Judge Nicholas Dean described him as a “petty criminal” and a “coward” adding: “What he did was dangerous. What he did led to awful, awful consequences.
“Mr Waszkiewicz did not simply rob Ms Kaczan of her handbag, he robbed her of her life.
He added: “There is tragic irony in the fact that Mrs Kaczan had survived the unimaginable horror of a Nazi concentration camp and slave labour, as well as imminent execution – only to meet her end because of the cowardly and sordid actions of a petty criminal and drug addict on the streets of Derby.
Leading the defence, David Nathan QC said: “I would respectfully submit he is not a monster.”
“No doubt over the last few months in custody he will have realised what he has thrown away.”
Kaczan’s carer Angelika Cybulska said in a statement that she had planned to go on one final holiday with the 100-year-old.
The statement, read out in court, said: “Now she has gone it has taken a massive part of my heart away and I miss her daily.
“I am so distraught she had to die in this way.”
Derby Crown Court was told heroin addict Waszkiewicz had 24 previous convictions for 51 offences, including one violent offence of battery in 2014.
Kaczan was born in Poland and survived the Holocaust after being interned in a concentration camp during the Second World War.
The attack left her with multiple injuries, including a fractured neck and cheekbone.
She died from pneumonia as a result of the attack on 6 June.
It took a jury two hours at Derby Crown Court found to find Waszkiewicz guilty on Wednesday.
Waszkiewicz attacked her because she was an “easy target”, and needed £20 to buy heroin later that day.
His aggression ripped the handle off the handbag and inflicted significant bruising on Kaczan’s arm.
At the opening of the case prosecutor Kate Brunner QC said: “She was attacked, she was thrown to the ground and her handbag was snatched from her.
“She was small, on her own, vulnerable – an easy target for a man desperate for money.
“He attacked Kaczan, yanking her handbag from her and leaving her injured in the road and driving off.”
Waszkiewicz fled the scene and hid under a bed at his mother’s house in London to try to avoid arrest.
In his attempts to avoid detection he altered his appearance by cutting his long hair and changed the insurance details on his car.
Police arrested Waszkiewicz, after his fingerprint was recovered from a receipt in the bag.
He denied both charges, saying he had found the green handbag in the middle of the road, picked it up, and disposed of it at a well-known fly-tipping area because there was no cash.