The robbers who hauled a British man from his bed at gunpoint at 4:00 and then shot him as they made their getaway in his Aston Martin walked free today (September 27) after receiving lenient sentences of probation from a Dordogne court.
One of the robbers was himself a Briton living locally.
David Dunsby, 63, needed an operation to remove 10 shotgun pellets from his leg, chest and face, and spent two nights in hospital after the attack in March 2021.
One of the pellets was close to a major artery and the ones in his face just missed his eye.
He also needed psychiatric help to deal with post traumatic stress disorder with the court hearing that the events in Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert in Dordogne were potentially a “time bomb waiting to go off” for his mental health.
At the time of the arrest of the two robbers, the receiver of the stolen goods and four other men charged with associated receiving and the theft of a Chevrolet Corvette car from a British holiday home, had resulted in the mobilisation of around 100 gendarmes in Charente and Dordogne.
The receiver of the stolen goods was depicted as a Fagan-like character sending out his “little soldiers” to collect cars and the case gave the impression of being the breaking open of a gang, prepared to shoot to kill and specialised in stealing valuable cars from British residents in order to resell them
Original attempted murder charges downgraded
But by the time the case came to the Périgueux court, the hearing had been downgraded to a simple criminal tribunal case and the original attempted murder charges downgraded to burglary with aggravating factors, and receiving stolen goods.
All the six accused walked free on probation.
The court heard the robbery for the Aston Martin and the burglary for the Corvette were the result of “impulsive decisions” taken in the context of late-night drink, cannabis and cocaine-fuelled parties in an Angoulême squat.
“My client accepts now that he was the victim of very bad luck, in that he became the target of an impulsive decision by two men out of control while under the influence of drugs, and not the target of an gang specialised in stealing expensive motorcars,” lawyer David Larrat, who represented Mr Dunsby as a civil party in the case, said.
What were the sentences?
The two involved in the shooting and robbing of Mr Dunsby, Karol Ciezynski, 32, of Angoulême and Toby Powell, 19, of Nontron were sentenced as follows:
Ciezynski, who was the shooter: Five years with three years to be served in prison but due to having served 17 months in detention and not having been involved in any issues in prison, he was released on probation for the rest of the sentence. This means that with the reduction in sentence for good behaviour, he was able to be released, and will face no more jail for the shooting and robbery of Mr Dunsby, unless he is caught breaking probation conditions.
He will be called before a judge in charge of the execution of sentences to register where he will be living. Conditions of his suspended sentence include having an electronic bracelet, not associating with other accused, working, and not being allowed to own or use firearms.
Judges heard that while in detention he applied to work in prison, and had worked in the kitchens, doing a good job.
Powell: 12 months jail with five months suspended and three years’ probation, with similar bail conditions as Ciezynski, which meant he will face no more jail time for his role in the robbery and shooting of Mr Dunsby due to time already served in detention.
The court heard that during the eight months Powell had been in prison, he had needed medical treatment after a fight with a cellmate, provoked by his co-detainee. He said he was living with his father but had arranged to move into a flat in Brantôme so he could be closer to work, and he will have to inform the authorities of his new address.
A third man, Sokol Hoti, 38, originally from Kosovo and living in Angoulême, admitted receiving stolen cars and has been labelled as the mastermind of the thefts.
Hoti: His sentence was 36 months prison, with 18 months suspended. He will not serve jail time due to the length of time spent in detention awaiting trial. He has similar probation conditions as Ciezynski, although he does not have work lined up. He will move in with his mother. The court was told he too had not got into trouble in prison and had enrolled in classes to improve his written French. He has done previous prison time for drug and motoring offences but not taken into account in sentencing
All the sentences followed the recommendations of the prosecutor to the court, except for Hoti, who the prosecutor wanted sentenced to four years in prison with one year suspended
The victim, an oil field engineer, compares his situation with his attackers who, without jobs, spent their time drinking and taking drugs
Maître Larrat, the lawyer representing Mr Dunsby, said that his client wanted "to stress to the court that he is not a rich chateau owner but someone who considers himself a worker, a hard worker who is an engineer on oil fields in difficult parts of the world, who compares his situation with his attackers, who had no jobs at the time, were on benefits and spent their time drinking and taking drugs.”
Mr Dunsby is presently working in Australia and was advised by doctors that due to a recent knee replacement operation, not related to the attack, he should not fly home to France for the trial, “something which is a disappointment as he has confidence in French justice,” said Maître Larrat.
Ciezynski, who came to France from Poland as an 11 year old, said he intends to move back with his father and work with him as a builder, repairing roofs in Ribérac.
A tall rangy man, with a star tattooed on his neck, he told the court he lost his way after breaking up with his girlfriend with whom he has two children.
In 2020, he and his father fell out after he arrived drunk at work and he was unemployed at the time of the robbery but they had since made up and his father had visited him in prison.
Powell came to France as a four year old but told the court he had a difficult time in his teens as his parents’ marriage broke up.
Standing around 1.82 metres high, with a neat haircut and dressed in smart shirt, jeans, and Nike boat shoes, he looked like a fresh-faced sixth former.
He started a CAP course to become a cook, working in a Brantôme hotel kitchen but dropped the course to work full time, then left the work “because the hours were too long and restricting for a 16-year-old.”
Burglar says he went partying to escape his home and Nontron, which he described as a ‘town for depressives’
After meeting Ciezynski three or four years ago, he said he used to go out partying with him to escape his home and Nontron, which he described as a “town for depressives.”
He was detained for eight months after his arrest, before being bailed, and starting to work again at the hotel in Brantôme where he started, initially on a trial, but now with a full-time permanent contract taking care of entrées and desserts.
He had a problem getting a Brexit WA carte de séjour because he was in prison at the time of the deadline to do so but now has one.
On the night of the robbery he said it was a “spur of the moment” decision when Ciezynski said they should steal the Aston Martin, and they then drove in Cieszynski’s Peugeot 308 car (stolen in Spain and fitted with false French plates) towards Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Sainte-Robert, stopping near Ciezynski’s parents’ house to get the gun from a hide-out in a wood and getting dressed in surgical masks, gloves, hoods and sunglasses.
Ciezynski made him leave his mobile phone and wallet at the hide, and Powell said it was only when the gun twice went off accidentally that he had second thoughts, “but by then I could not back out.”
The gun was later examined by experts, who found the safety catch did not work but it would only fire if the trigger was pulled.
Mr Dunsby's statement, summarised to the court, told how he was hauled violently from bed, allowed to dress and then marched downstairs by the two robbers.
Victim made a dash to get out onto street thinking they would be less likely to shoot as noise would wake the village
He realised they were high on drugs, something he had seen before on the oil fields he worked on, and that the risk of being shot in his home was high.
Making a dash for the door, thinking they would be less likely to shoot outside as the shot would wake the village, he was tackled by Ciezynski, but managed to get out into the street, shouting and fighting Ciezynski, who called on Powell to help.
Powell then hit Mr Dunsby on the jaw before running into the house and finding the keys to the Aston Martin on a kitchen worktop.
Powell then opened the right-hand-drive Aston Martin, something which needs several clicks of the key fob, and got in the passenger side “because he did not have a driving licence,” while Cuesynski ran back to the car.
Before getting in he shot Mr Dunsby, who was 15 metres away, claiming later though he shot into the ground and had no idea hit Mr Dunsby.
At the time he was still wearing sunglasses, mask, gloves and hood, and told the court he was “dazed” due to the drink and drugs he had consumed, and the struggle with Mr Dunsby.
“If I knew I hit him I would have stopped,” said Ciezynski, “but he was still standing.”
“I don’t want to kill anyone.”
The car was flashed at 190km/h on the Angoulême bypass 30 minutes later and spotted in the street by chance by patrolling police four days later.
DNA analysis of traces left in the car led to the unravelling of the gang, with investigators tapping their phones.
The gang was rounded up after the second burglary at La-Chapelle-Montmoreau, near Nontron, where the Corvette, gold coins, silver bars, computers, fine wine and a television, estimated at €62,000, were stolen from the British holiday home by Ciezynski and another French man, also after a drink and drug filled evening.
They had first broken into the garage expecting to find a Ferrari but then broke into the house, but were so disorganised they had to make two trips to steal all the items away.
A Kosovan, Sokol Hoti, 38, of Angoulême, who admitted receiving both the Aston Martin and the Corvette, who was detained for 17 months, was equally freed on probation.
The court heard that Ciezynski owed him money for a car and for cocaine.
Mr Hoti said he had sold the Corvette, later found burnt out, “to gypsies” he did not know for €500.
The court also ordered that €14,500 in costs be paid to Mr Dunsby for the physical and mental harm done to him.
It is very rare in France that such costs orders are met.