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Homeless ‘knifeman’ in tusk theft trial says he had permission to raid Dundee antique collector’s flat

Marcin Szcezerbinski went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court.
Marcin Szcezerbinski went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court.

A homeless man told jurors he had permission to take a laptop, mobile phone and ornamental resin tusks from an antique collector’s flat in Dundee.

Marcin Szcezerbinski denies he assaulted and robbed Jaroslaw Szafranowski at knifepoint in his Dudhope Court home in September 2020.

Szcezerbinski explained he had been staying in Dundee’s tallest high rise after Mr Szafranowski had offered him a roof over his head.

He gave evidence on Wednesday, claiming he had been given permission to take whatever he liked from the flat as fellow Polish national Mr Szafranowski was unable to provide payment for antiques Szcezerbinski had retrieved from “beside skips and bins.”

Threats and thefts alleged

At Perth Sheriff Court on Tuesday, Mr Szafranowski told jurors Szcezerbinski had surprised him by entering his flat on the morning of September 26.

He alleges Szcezerbinski drank half a bottle of whisky, then took a kitchen knife with a 20cm blade and used it to destroy antiques, breaking the handle in the process.

Porcelain collector Mr Szafranowski added Szcezerbinski then fetched a second knife and brandished it, so he told his former lodger to take what he wanted and leave.

Dudhope Court
The accused was offered shelter at Dudhope Court.

He also accuses Szcezerbinski of swinging an oak chair at him before making off with the electronics and 50cm resin tusks, inscribed with the American Constitution, which he says were valued at up to £7,000.

Szcezerbinski denied ever holding a knife on the date in questions.

He explained his DNA was found on the smaller knife, which was recovered in a case on a cabinet in the hall, because he had been using it for its intended purpose.

Wednesday’s evidence

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Szcezerbinski said: “I did live at his place for about two months.

“I knew places where people were leaving items next to skips, next to bins – items which still had some value.

“There was a lot of those items.”

He said he offered them to Mr Szafranowski in exchange for taking him in but that he expected payment as well.

Szcezerbinski claimed he asked for £500, which his former host was unable to provide.

Mr Szafranowski said this figure became £2,000 and then £5,000.

The 35-year-old said in exchange for the antiques, Mr Szafranowski agreed to let him take whatever he felt was fair compensation.

“He told me he wouldn’t give me any money,” Szcezerbinski added, through a translator.

“I said we need to come to some sort of agreement.

“Then I offered that he should give me items that I can put into my backpack and those would be proper compensation.

“He was walking around shouting that I can take whatever I wish.

“I offered that I would take the phone, the laptop and the tusks.

“I did not hear anything to the contrary.”

Dudhope Court, Dundee
The theft is alleged to have happened at Dudhope Court multi.

Prosecutor, Michael Sweeney said: “The reason he didn’t object is because you threatened him with a knife in your hand.

“Why would Jaroslaw phone the police if you had done nothing wrong?

“It seems like an offer he couldn’t refuse when you’ve got the knife.”

Denying ever being armed, Szcezerbinski said: “I was normal, I was nice.

“There was no aggression in me.”

Items were returned, damaged

The court heard Szcezerbinski later instructed a friend to return the items when he heard police had become involved.

Mr Szafranowski claimed they came back to him damaged.

A charge was dropped that Szcezerbinski later breached bail conditions when he was arrested by police, who saw him on Lochee Road with a rucksack and a suitcase, as well as an allegation he took a set of keys.

Szcezerbinski initially suggested a hooded figure with a suitcase and backpack captured on CCTV entering a lift on the date of the alleged incident was a friend from the tower block.

He later conceded it could be himself but that he could not make out the face.

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

The jury will retire on Thursday and the trial, before Sheriff Alastair Carmichael, continues.

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