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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Polish link solves girl's murder
By Jeremy Britton
BBC News Online

Kunowski caught on camera
Kunowski was caught on camera running away
The police hunt for the killer of 12-year-old Katerina Koneva ended up with the arrest of a serial rapist on the run from Poland.

Detectives working on the case in west London appeared to have plenty of leads but it still proved to be the most frustrating of cases.

The bright schoolgirl, a refugee from Macedonia looking for a better life in Britain, was found strangled at her home.

Her attacker had been spotted by her father, Trajce, escaping from the family's flat through a back garden. He immediately gave chase.

At least seven eyewitnesses saw the man running away and a security video showed Katerina's father desperately trying to catch his daughter's killer.

But despite an extensive inquiry and three separate appeals for information on BBC's Crimewatch programme, the trail went cold.

I just asked what he was doing in my house. He just looked at me and ran away. I went after him
Katerina Koneva's father, Trajce

The breakthrough only came last year after an illegal Polish immigrant was found guilty at the Old Bailey of raping a foreign student and sentenced to nine years.

The court heard how Andrzej Kunowski, a 45-year-old tailor living in Acton, west London, approached the Korean student outside a Tube station as she waited for a friend and offered to find her a bedsit.

Instead he took her to his flat and attacked her and when she tried to resist he started to choke her and then tied her up.

She only escaped by promising to phone Kunowski the next day.

Crucially, a DNA sample taken from Kunowski at the time proved identical to a hair discovered in packaging containing a cardigan belonging to Katerina Koneva.

Kunowski had also left his fingerprints on the window and window ledge as he escaped from the family flat where Katerina lived.

Forensic analysis showed they were "fresh" and made within the previous 72 hours.

Warsaw link

The final piece of the jigsaw came from Polish police - they had charged Kunowski with the rape of a 10-year-old girl in Warsaw in 1995.

In this attack Kunowski had again allegedly started to choke the girl and left her tied up before he was caught escaping from her flat.

DNA evidence from a sofabed in the flat was analysed by Scotland Yard and proved a perfect match to Kunowski.

Kunowski never stood trial for the rape of the Warsaw girl as he was released on bail for health reasons and fled to England where he would strike twice again.

It also emerged that Kunowski had attacked another 27 women and children in Poland, mostly in the north eastern town of Mlawa, where he was a driver for a construction company.

He committed his first rape at 17, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

He came to England in 1996 where he disappeared from sight after being refused asylum.

Police from the UK's serious crime directorate are now investigating offences across Europe where women have gone missing to see if they may be linked to Kunowski.




SEE ALSO:
Rapist murdered girl in her home
31 Mar 04  |  London
Katerina: A father's tale
31 Mar 04  |  London


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