Gang of Polish robbers killed millionaire in his home for Rolex watch
A gang of Polish robbers has been found guilty of killing a self-made millionaire in his own home for the sake of his Rolex watch.
Gambling addict Miltiades Papadopoulos, also known as Milton, 41, was found dead at his luxury house in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, on October 22 last year.
He had been trussed up and smothered to death before the robbers ransacked his home, tearing apart sofa cushions and spraying the naked body with foam stuffing as they searched for his hidden cash.
Mr Papadopoulos's body was discovered after his business manager raised the alarm. The only item that police could confirm was missing was his £20,000 Rolex.
The court heard the robbers had identified Milton as a target through a mysterious Polish Mr Big called Lucasz who supplied the victim with escort girls who in turn reported back on his wealth.
On the anniversary of the victim's death, Polish national Sebastian Kimel, 40, was found guilty of his murder while Arkadiusz Szarkowski, 42, and Krzysztof Kasza, 42, were convicted of manslaughter.
The Old Bailey jury was not told that a fourth suspected killer, Wojciech Ryniak, was not in the dock because he had himself been murdered before he could be apprehended by police.
The court had heard that the victim was a wealthy man owning several businesses and properties.
But friends said he had become difficult after the breakdown of a relationship two years before and turned to online gambling and drugs.
In the months before the killing, he had lost "quite a lot of money" through his gambling habit, prosecutor Mark Fenhalls QC said.
He told jurors: "He was, you might think, the perfect target. He was a man who was now living on his own, and he was wealthy and he was exactly the kind of person who was vulnerable."
In his defence, Kimel claimed that Mr Papadopoulos had died accidentally during a debt collection gone wrong.
He told jurors that Ryniak had gone "crazy" and attacked him as well as the victim when they went to his house dressed in overalls to seize £100,000 and 2kg of cocaine in exchange for a 25% cut.
Giving evidence, Szarkowski initially claimed to know very little about the Potters Bar killing, although he admitted driving various colleagues to and from the property on several occasions.
He had also obtained handcuffs, searched the internet for Rolex watches and bought the lock pick that Kimel had in his possession.
But when questioned by lawyers for his co-defendant Kasza, he also admitted that they had found out about Milton's wealth through escort girls procured for him by Lukasz
Kimel, from Streatham, south London, Szarkowski, from Hornchurch, Essex, and Kasza, from Wood Green, north London, were all convicted of conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to falsely imprison.
Sources close to the case said preparations for the trial were hampered because of difficulties finding out about the defendants' previous activities in Poland from court officials there.
The jury was not told that Kasza, who went by the alias Turlej in the UK, is facing two European Arrest Warrants for crimes involving house breaking, extortion and using false currency and took part in organised crime in Poland.
Mr Fenhalls told the court that the victim's family were not present in court for the verdict because they were marking the anniversary of his death.
However, they are expected to return on Friday to see the killers sentenced.
Afterwards, Detective Chief Inspector Jo Walker said: "This was an extremely difficult, complex and resource-intensive enquiry, which saw my team pursue a high number of lines of enquiry, resulting in the arrest and charge of these three men.
"We are pleased the court has found these men guilty of this brutal crime, which resulted in the death of Milton. We continue to think of the family at this extremely difficult time as they have been left devastated by the loss of Milton."