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Dundee knifeman robbed Good Samaritan of precious tusks worth thousands, trial told

Dudhope Court
The accused was offered shelter at Dudhope Court.

A Dundee antiques collector was robbed of precious elephant tusks worth up to £7,000 by a man taking advantage of his kindness, a court has been told.

A jury heard Marcin Szcezerbinski took advantage of the Good Samaritan who offered him shelter in the city.

Jaroslaw Szafranowski offered succour to his fellow Polish national after meeting the soaked 35-year-old near his flat.

However, Szcezerbinski is now standing trial accused of assault and robbery and stealing thousands of pounds worth of items, including the ornamental tusks.

Kind offer of accommodation

Giving evidence in Perth Sheriff Court, 54-year-old Mr Szafranowski said the pair had first crossed paths on a farm in 2014 and had not stayed in touch but then bumped into each other again in Dundee.

Mr Szafranowski explained he offered to take Szcezerbinski into his flat at Dudhope Court for “two or three nights” to “dry his clothes, gather his strength” and try to find his own accommodation.

Through a court interpreter, he said: “He was soaked and told me he had nowhere to stay overnight.

“He asked me if I could help him in any way.

“That wasn’t the first time I helped someone out.

“In the past, I was in a difficult situation myself so I try to help.

“I agreed for him to stay for about two or three nights.

“Marcin very quickly started to abuse my hospitality.”

‘In a bit of a mean mood’

Mr Szafranowski explained his guest kept coming back to the property and accused him of stealing a set of keys.

He went on to tell jurors that while he and another man were in the flat, Szcererbinski let himself in between 10 and 11am and claimed he was there to collect his belongings.

“Marcin was in a bit of a mean mood.

“He was smiling but it wasn’t a sincere smile.”

He went on to explain he and a friend had been drinking whisky and had left half a 70cl bottle on the coffee table beside a couch, on which the friend was asleep.

According to Mr Szafranowski, Szcezerbinski made his way to the living room and began accusing him of selling his items and demanded £200, £2,000 and then £5,000 in compensation.

“Straight away, I realised he was agitated.

“At some point, Marcin went into the kitchen.

“At this point, Marcin accused me of having sold his belongings.

“He became more and more aggressive and loud and he started making threats towards me.”

Brandished knife

Describing himself as a porcelain and antique collector, he explained his lodger had previously brought him antiques to sell.

He claimed not to have asked for these and said he could not sell them as he was not in business and the items had no invoices.

He said that he brought out these items, thinking that was what Szcezerbinski wanted.

The accused began destroying them with a knife from the kitchen before fetching a second knife and brandishing it, he said.

Szcezerbinski drank the remainder of the whisky and was “shouting… using vulgar, obscene language,” said Mr Szafranowski.

“He started threatening me with a knife.

“I told him in very clear terms, I told him to pack his stuff.

“He said he would do what he wants.

“I was terrified.

“He came up with this absurd amount he wanted me to pay him.

“I told him I didn’t owe him anything so I wouldn’t be paying him anything.

“I said ‘why did you take the second knife?’

“He said ‘to f*** you up’. I took it literally.”

Theft claims

He said Szcezerbinski made off with a £2,000 Hewlett Packard laptop and £300 mobile phone.

He said he also raided his bedroom and took a pair of resin ornamental tusks inscribed with the American Constitution.

Mr Szafranowski claimed the tusks, just under half a metre in size, would sell at auction for between £2,000 and £7,000.

Jurors were shown CCTV of a man taking bags into the lift at Dudhope Court, leaving the main door and exiting down a path.

Mr Szafranowski said his goods were slowly recovered and returned to him by a friend of Szcezerbinski and others who recognised the stolen but damaged items.

The charges

Szcezerbinski denies allegations that on September 26 in 2020, he assaulted and robbed Mr Szafranowski by attempting to strike him with a table, repeatedly brandished a knife and stole a laptop, mobile, ornamental tusks and a set of keys.

He also denies that five weeks later he breached a bail curfew which required him to be indoors be at a different address in Dundee between 7pm and 7am each night.

The trial, before Sheriff Alastair Carmichael, continues.

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