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‘Widow, 100, died after breaking her neck when a mugger stole her bag’

A 100-year-old woman died after a mugger broke her neck as he snatched her handbag, a court heard.  

Artur Waszkiewicz allegedly grabbed Zofija Kaczan from behind and stole her handbag as she walked to a church service in Normanton, Derby.

Waszkiewicz, 40, saw Mrs Kaczan as an ‘easy target’ so pounced on her as she walked along the street on her own on May 28 last year, jurors heard. 

The centenarian, who had celebrated her 100th birthday just one month earlier, was taken to hospital and was able to give police a description of her attacker before she died days after the attack, on June 6.

Zofija Kaczan died in June 6 last year after she was mugged on her way to church 

The jury were shown CCTV stills of Ms Kaczan being followed by a grey Seat Leon

The jury were shown CCTV stills of Ms Kaczan being followed by a grey Seat Leon

Ms Kaczan, who had turned 100 on May 9, was attacked as she made her way to St Maksymilian Kolbe Polish Church at 8.30am. 

Prosecutor Kate Brunner QC said Mrs Kaczan ‘was in remarkably good shape’ and went to church every morning. 

Polish-born widow Ms Kaczan, who was held in a Nazi camp during the Second World War, suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured neck and cheekbone, before her condition deteriorated.

She died from pneumonia in hospital on June 6 – a condition which would only have been brought on by the injuries sustained in the attack, the court was told.

Derby Crown Court was told Waszkiewicz had been driving around quiet residential streets in a Seat Leon car insured in his father’s name, and had slowed down as soon as he saw the easy target.

The defendant’s fingerprint had been found on a receipt from Ms Kaczan’s handbag and no money was present when it was recovered, the court heard.

A jury panel of seven men and five women was told the 40-year-old was so desperate for money that he had tried to sell his dog to neighbours before the incident.

The prosecution said the force used in the attack was so great that the green handle on the victim’s handbag was ripped off. 

The prosecution alleges that after the incident, the defendant changed his appearance and the insurance details of the car he was driving to distance himself from the attack.

Opening the case against Waszkiewicz on Monday, Kate Brunner QC said: ‘She was attacked, she was thrown to the ground and her handbag was snatched from her.

‘The prosecution say it was this man in the dock who robbed her and whose actions led to her death.

‘She was small, on her own, vulnerable – an easy target for a man desperate for money.’ 

The junction in Normanton, Derby where Zofija Kaczan suffered a broken neck

The junction in Normanton, Derby where Zofija Kaczan suffered a broken neck

The court was told Waszkiewicz was questioned by police at his father’s address in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, where he admitted he had been driving the car on the day of the attack.

Ms Brunner said the defendant was caught on CCTV disposing of the handbag in a well-known fly-tipping area.

She continued: ‘He attacked Ms Kaczan, yanking her handbag from her and leaving her injured in the road and driving off.

‘The handbag was later found by street cleaners. What the prosecution say is this man took the money from the handbag and it was then of no use to him.

‘It will be no surprise to you that no cash was found in the handbag.’

Waszkiewicz, from Derby, denies robbery and manslaughter. The trial at Derby Crown Court (pictured), continues

Waszkiewicz, from Derby, denies robbery and manslaughter. The trial at Derby Crown Court (pictured), continues

Describing what could be seen on CCTV in the moments leading up to the incident, Ms Brunner said: ‘Part of what happened was caught on a reflection in a car window which was then recorded on a CCTV camera.

‘A tall shape moved from the driver’s side of the car to the pavement. The prosecution say that shape was this defendant.’

Ms Brunner added: ‘Moments after the attack two friends of Zofija Kaczan passed by and saw her getting to her feet and steadying herself on a car, she was bleeding.

‘They noticed she didn’t have her handbag and she was saying, ‘keys, keys.”  

Ms Brunner added: ‘We say it must have been the robbery that caused the end of a 100-year-old life.’

Waszkiewicz, from Derby, denies robbery and manslaughter. The trial, set to last two weeks, continues.

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