Four people arrested following a burglary in which Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis was murdered have been jailed.
They appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday where Judge John Devaux said he accepted that none had become involved realising that a murder would be committed but had all played roles in the planning and aftermath of the break-in.
Aleksandra Karpiuk, 27, of Lake Avenue, Bury St Edmunds and Pawel Borowiecki, 31, of Roslyn Road, London, had both denied conspiracy to commit burglary but were convicted by a jury following a trial.
Karpiuk was also found guilty of assisting an offender by driving the killer of Mr Avis to Stansted Airport.
Karpiuk was jailed for four years while Borowiecki, who had previous convictions for burglary, received five years.
Pawal Pacian, 34, of Lake Avenue, Bury St Edmunds who pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods from Mr Avis’s shop and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
Kamil Kita, 20, of no fixed address pleaded guilty to burglary and was jailed for three years.
Ireneusz Melaniuk, 28 of no fixed address, who has pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Avis and stealing jewellery is to be sentenced on a date yet to be fixed.
He was arrested in Poland on an unconnected matter before being extradited to the UK under a European Arrest Warrant.
The body of Mr Avis, 66, who was described to the court as “frail” was found by police on January 14 in the bedroom of his ransacked flat above Collis and Son jewellers in Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.
Mr Avis, who used a walking frame and stick since suffering a brain aneurysm more than 20 years ago, had been stabbed 13 times and struck in the face with a glass ashtray.
Missing from the shop was jewellery and silverware.
Peter Gair, prosecuting, said: “The ransacking of the premises was extensive and there was also no respect shown to the body. Papers and other items were strewn on top of him.”
The jury heard how Mr Avis had lived alone since the death of his mother in 1989.
Mr Gair said: “He had considerable mobility problems. He used a walking stick in the shop. He was well known locally.”
The burglars had forced their way in through the rear of the shop, which backs onto a cul-de-sac leading from High Baxter Street at about midnight.
Mr Gair said the last people known to have seen Mr Avis alive, apart from his killer, was his cleaner and Robin Phillips who had locked up the shop for Mr Avis the previous evening.
The shop had been specifically targeted for burglary after it was established that Mr Avis lived and worked there alone.
The value of the items stolen in the raid could not be established due to incomplete stock records but silverware including jugs, bowls, candlesticks and lighters recovered from the boot of a Honda car being driven by Pacian in London was estimatedto be worth more than £5,000.
Mr Gair said CCTV images recovered from Stansted Airport showed Kita, Borowiecki and Melaniuk all carrying bags which police believe contained the most valuable jewellery taken in the burglary.
Some items had been offered to pawnbrokers in London but most had never been found.
Following the burglary in which Melaniuk killed Mr Avis, the intruders went to Karpiuk’s flat where they divided up their haul.
It had been reports from residents in a London street of Pacian behaving suspiciously that gave detectives in Suffolk their first lead as the car he was seen using was found to have a boot full of items stolen from the shop within hours it leaving Bury St Edmunds.
Borowiecki was arrested on January 15 in London and Karpiuk at her home in Bury St Edmunds the next day.
Mr Gair said that Kita was detained in London on January.
Police used DNA samples, footprints, fibres from clothing, CCTV images and mobile phone records to link the defendants to the crime, the court heard.
Karpiuk who worked as a part-time security guard at Bury St Edmunds magistrates court and other venues in the town, claimed to have been frightened for the safety of herself and her daughter when she helped the killer of Mr Avis flee the country by driving him to Stansted Airport.
Lindsay Cox, in mitigation, said Karpiuk was a single mother who had played a “subsidiary” role in the crime and not taken part in the actual break-in.
Borowiecki denied having been involved in the burglary and claimed to have been visiting a nearby betting shop when he was caught by CCTV cameras on what the prosecution said was a reconnaisance trip in Abbeygate Street.
His barrister Adam Budworth said Borowiecki had not played a principal role and would not have become involved if he knew Mr Avis would be present on the premises and that violence would be used, would never have become involved.
George Payne, appearing for Pacian said his client had only arrived in the UK in late 2011 and spoke no English.
He suffered from schizophrenia and had stopped taking his medication leaving him ‘vulnerable
Since being arrested he had resumed taking medication and had improved.
Andrew Shaw, in mitigation, said Kita was the youngest of the four people appearing in court to be sentenced and had expresed remorse for what he had done.