Raid victim 'bound and left to die'

A pensioner died alone in her bedroom after burglars ransacked her home and left her bound, gagged and unable to call for help.

Eveline Kelmenson, 83, lay undiscovered for five weeks before relatives found her body on New Year's Day 2009.

The men broke in through the basement of her five-bedroom home in Leweston Place, Stamford Hill, north London, an Old Bailey jury heard this week.

Miss Kelmenson had lived in the house for 50 years, the last few of which were described as "pretty solitary" since the deaths of her nine siblings.

She died a "slow death" from hypothermia, said Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting. By the time her body was found it was badly decomposed.

"The defendants ransacked the house in their search for anything of value to steal. When they were done, the defendants left the house.

"Miss Kelmenson was left still bound and gagged on the floor of her bedroom. It was winter, and it was cold, and because she was alone in the house, she had no means of escape or alerting others to her plight. It must have been a terrifying experience.

"Miss Kelmenson did not, as the defendants should surely have realised, have the physical strength to loosen or escape from the bindings and, most tragically, because she led an independent but solitary life, neither did anyone else come to her aid."

Miss Kelmenson was said to be extremely security conscious and a British Gas engineer told the court she kept all doors locked and told him people had broken in previously.

The burglars took a gold necklace and a wedding ring, a family heirloom belonging to her mother, who arrived in England from Russia in the late 1800s.

Councillor Simche Steinberger, who had known her for many years, described her as "independent".

Two Polish men deny her manslaughter. Kuba Dlugosz, 33, and Szymon Wyrostek, 26, also deny charges of burglary.

Three chisels were found by police next to the basement door and had been used, Mr Laidlaw said, to force entry. Mr Dlugosz's DNA was among others found on the tools and this led to his arrest in July 2010.

Mr Laidlaw claimed that Mr Dlugosz had previously committed burglary in Poland and the UK, and had tied up people and applied tape as a gag.

He said both men had committed offences near to Miss Kelmenson's home in the period leading up to her death, including in October 2008, when Mr Dlugosz allegedly burgled Sharon's Bakery in Stamford Hill.

When Mr Wyrostek was arrested, he told police: "I did not murder her. We went in there for money. We put masking tape around her feet."

Defending Mr Dlugosz, Hugh Blake-James raised questions about the risk of DNA contamination.

The case continues.

    Last updated: 12:16pm, June 16 2011