Three men jailed following murder trial - Potters Bar

23/10/2015

Three men appeared at the Old Bailey today, Friday, 23 October 2015, and were jailed for a combined total of over 50 years in connection with the death of a man from Potters Bar in October 2014.

Miltiades Papadopoulos, who was 41-years-old and known as Milton to his friends and family, was found dead at his home address in Parkfield View on 22 October 2014.

Milton's death prompted an investigation by detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (BCH MCU) after the circumstances surrounding the death were deemed suspicious.

After an extensive and thorough investigation, which was called Operation Pinene, detectives arrested three men who were subsequently charged with joint enterprise murder, conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to falsely imprison, as follows:

Sebastian Kimel, aged 40, of Beechcroft, Stratton, London
Arkadiusz Szarkowski, aged 42, of Abbs Cross Gardens, Romford
Krzysztof Kasza, aged 42, of Imperial Road, Wood Green, London.

Although a post-mortem found that the cause of Milton's death could not be conclusively determined, it is believed he was smothered. There was also bruising to his wrists and ankles, suggesting he had been bound whilst alive.

The court was told how the three men and another conspired together to visit Milton's address. Kimel claimed the purpose of this visit was to collect a debt, but Szarkowski and Kasza denied any involvement with Milton's death.

On the morning of Monday, 20 October 2014, Kimel attended the property in Parkfield View. There was an altercation between the men and Milton was heard screaming by a neighbour. Additionally, a van that the men drove to the address was photographed at the location.

When Milton was killed, the men made efforts to cover their tracks forensically by using bleach and various cleaning products around the house.

After discovering the vehicle was on false plates, detectives located the van used and, through extensive mobile phone work and other enquiries, were able to link Szarkowski, Kimel and Kasza to the vehicle and to the scene of the crime.

It was also shown, through tracing the location of the men's mobile phones and reading their text messages, that the men had previously visited the location where Milton lived, scoping out the property and surrounding area.

Although Kimel had admitted a charge of conspiracy to falsely imprison, he denied joint enterprise murder and conspiracy to rob. However, on Tuesday, 20 October 2015, he was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to rob, and was today sentenced to life and to serve a minimum of 25 years.

Szarkowski and Kasza both denied the charges of joint enterprise murder, conspiracy to falsely imprison and conspiracy to rob, but on Tuesday, 20 October 2015, they were found guilty of manslaughter, conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to falsely imprison. They were found not guilty of murder.  Szarkowski and Kasza were today, sentenced to 13 years imprisonment each.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the tragic murder of 41-year-old Miltiades (also known as Milton) Papadopoulos at his home in Parkfield View, Potters Bar last October.

"On 22 October 2014, having not been able to get hold of him for a couple of days, Milton's family were concerned for his welfare.  At about 7.40pm that evening, Milton's sister went to his house and on getting no reply, let herself in and found him dead on the floor.  It was apparent that the house had been ransacked, but cleaned, so the police were called.  There was no obvious cause of death and it is believed he was smothered.  His wrists and ankles showed signs that he had been bound while alive.

"During the investigation, a neighbour reported seeing a van parked outside her neighbour's house on the morning of 20 October and heard screams coming from the house indicating this is when Milton was killed.  Four men were forensically linked to Milton's death with DNA, telephone evidence (call data and cell site analysis), ANPR and CCTV namely, Arkadiusz Szarkowski, Sebastian Kimel, Krzysztof Kasza and a fourth man.  The van used by the men to attend the scene was displaying stolen plates, handcuffs were bought less than a month prior to the murder and a number of visits to the Potters Bar area were made by the men between 26 September and 20 October indicating a vast amount of pre-planning.  They are clearly extremely ruthless, calculated and dangerous men.

"Milton was a successful man with a number of businesses.  The motive for the attack remains a mystery.  Precisely why these men chose to jointly end the life of another human being in such a brutal fashion is known only to them.

"Szarkowski answered no comment in police interviews, but provided prepared statements denying any involvement in the murder.  Kimel admitted being at the scene, but claimed he had been instructed to go there to collect a debt, people were present when he arrived, he was attacked and tried to resuscitate the victim, who was suffocating.  Kasza declined to answer questions when interviewed.  They all pleaded not guilty to Milton's murder, but on 20 October the jury found Kimel guilty of murder and Szarkowski and Kasza guilty of manslaughter, despite their denials.  All three were also convicted of conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to falsely imprison.

"We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.

"This case represents a tragedy for Milton's family and friends, who have been devastated by his untimely death.  We know that nothing will bring Milton back to his family and friends, but we hope that the convictions and today's sentences bring them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Chief Inspector Jo Walker from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit led the investigation and 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.

"The offenders went to great lengths to avoid capture both forensically and physically prolonging the investigation.

"We are pleased with today's sentencing as it reflects the severity and callousness of the men's actions and recognises the fact they went to some considerable lengths to cover up their involvement planning their actions on that day and avoiding detection.

"Milton was an easy target for this organised crime group. His family have been left devastated by this brutal crime and I hope that today's sentencing will bring some ease and closure for them."