The district court in Hamburg classified an arson attack on a sleeping homeless person as attempted murder, intentional bodily harm and property damage. The criminal court sentenced the accused to four and a half years in prison on Thursday. According to the conviction of the court, on June 13 last year, the Pole poured a cup of alcohol-based disinfectant over the sweater sleeve of a homeless man, set it on fire and left it to his fate.
The homeless man had slept late in the evening in front of a toilet facility in Altona train station. The 34-year-old woke up and quick-wittedly took off the burning sweater, but suffered painful burns on his upper right arm. The defendant, who was alcoholic and homeless himself, accepted the death of his victim with approval. "The victim survived, thank God," said presiding judge Matthias Steinmann. "But that was luck." The murder characteristic of insidiousness was fulfilled.
Almost a month before the crime, the 35-year-old set fire to the sleeping bag of another homeless person after a dispute at Altona train station. The owner of the sleeping bag had gone away. When he returned, the accused attacked the defenseless and drunk man, pushed him to the ground and hit him, Steinmann explained. The accused punched a third homeless person in the face after a dispute at the main train station, in front of federal police officers.
According to the judge, the arson attack on the sleeping homeless person came to light by accident. The day after the crime, the perpetrator and the victim fought with other men at the Altona train station. The federal police intervened. Officers noticed the victim's injured arm and heard it was set on fire.
Police also found a video on the suspect's cell phone. A Polish-speaking officer viewed the footage taken by an acquaintance of the accused. Ten days later, the 35-year-old was arrested. In court, he admitted the crime and expressed regret in his last word. He only gave his acquaintance a "note" about debts, but didn't want to kill him.
The accused has a "highly criminal personality" and has already committed numerous crimes in Poland and Germany, especially physical injuries against people from the drinking and homeless milieu, said Steinmann. In November 2020, he kicked the same man he set on fire a year and a half later. He was sentenced to one year and two months probation. The probationary period has not yet expired.
Criminal proceedings for sexual abuse have been ongoing since January 2022. An arrest warrant in this matter was lifted because the authorities could not locate the victim. The defendant started drinking when he was 12 years old. He learned the trade of car mechanic, but only earned money as a casual worker. As the father of a daughter, he went through two unsuccessful alcohol therapies in Poland.
In 2016 he came to Germany. He is unemployed and unable to work, hardly speaks German, his circle of friends come from the same milieu. “The defendant cannot stay in Germany. That's obvious," said Steinmann.
The public prosecutor's office had demanded a total of eight and a half years' imprisonment. The defense attorney had not filed a specific criminal complaint. The verdict is not yet legally binding.