Four Polish men have admitted burgling the home of a university lecturer who was left savagely beaten and left with “life-changing injuries” after opening the door to the balaclava-clad gang.
Paul Kohler, 55, was left needing facial reconstruction surgery for a fractured eye socket following the attack, in which the men also tried to tie his wife to a chair.
Pawel Honc, 23, of no fixed abode, and Mariusz Tomaszewski, 32, of Mitcham, south London, pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court to grievous bodily harm with intent and aggravated burglary.
Two other men, Oscar Pawlowicz, 29, of Mitcham, and Dawid Tychon, 29, of no fixed abode, both admitted aggravated burglary but denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Mr Kohler, who is head of law at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, said he was “ecstatic and very pleased” at the men’s admissions during the court hearing, during which they were hidden from his view by the dock’s frosted glass.
He said: “I would like to meet them face to face, I would like to know why they did it, it is still a big mystery as to why they did it.” He added: “I was saying ‘There is no money, I am an academic, for God’s sake’.”
Mr Kohler was attacked on 11 August at his home in Wimbledon, south-west London, that he shares with his wife, Samantha MacArthur, and four daughters.
He opened his door at around 10pm to someone who he believed was one of his daughter’s friends, but was instead met by four men who burst in, shouting “Where’s the money?”
As he was attacked, he called out to his wife, who was threatened by two men who tried to tape her to a chair, until she managed to wriggle free.
Mr Kohler tried to break loose but found himself confronted by some of the men again almost immediately. He was knocked to the floor and one of the gang knelt above him holding a heavy wooden cabinet door, demanding to know where the money was or he would hit him with it.
He was only saved when police intervened after his daughter, Eloise, who had locked herself in an upstairs bedroom with her boyfriend, called 999.
Describing the moment officers saved him “from something a lot worse,” he said the gang “were threatening to bring down the door of the wooden cabinet on my head and they were going through miming that process when police arrived”.
Honc and Tomaszewski were both arrested at the scene, while Tychon and Pawlowicz were tracked down later.
Mr Kohler said he had been “great, fine and wonderful” since the attack but was still suffering physically. He said: “I have continuing trouble with my vision on the left and my wife and children are still quite traumatised by this.”
Barristers for the four defendants told Judge Susan Tapping that each wanted to express his “sincere regret and apologies” for the incident.
The four defendants were remanded in custody until they are sentenced on 29 January. Judge Tapping told them that “only very substantial custodial sentences will be appropriate”.