Five handed jail terms totaling almost 50 years following death of dad found in Flatts Lane woods

Five people involved in the death and disappearance of a vulnerable dad-of-one have received jail sentences totaling almost 50 years.

Rafal Chmielewski and Zbigniew Pawlowski killed Tomasz Dembler in a brutal and unprovoked attack at his house share in North Ormesby. A judge said they were “dangerous” and posed a risk to the public as she passed 17-and-a-half year extended jail terms to the pair.

Mr Dembler was kicked, punched and stamped on in his bedroom on March 21, last year. Then in a “chillingly slick” cover-up operation, his body was dismembered and dumped in a shallow grave in woodland near Flatts Lane Country Park in Normanby.

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Monika Solerska, Tomasz Reczycki and Adam Czerwinski, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by helping to dispose of the 39-year-old’s body. All five were being tried for murder at Teesside Crown Court but seven weeks in, Chmielewski and Pawlowski admitted the lesser charges.

During the case, the court heard how, after moving into a house on Edward Street, Mr Dembler had brought cutlery and crockery and had cooked meals for the new friends. The judge, Justice Mary Stacey told the defendants the attack was unprovoked and Mr Dembler was not violent, noting: “You were his friends which he was trying to impress, not antagonize.”



Middlesbrough dad Tomasz Dembler, whose mutilated body was discovered at a popular country park

Jurors heard how Mr Dembler’s hands were cut-off following his death. A post mortem found that Mr Dembler had suffered a broken back, a fractured jaw and 15 broken ribs in the attack which lasted up to 30 minutes.

Describing the clean-up operation as “chillingly slick” and “ruthlessly smart”, the judge said it was only by “sheer luck” that his body was discovered by the two teenagers at the woodland. And she noted how four of the defendants had tried to lay the blame on Pawlowski during the trial – the only one who was not family.

But she said all played a part in trying to make sure what happened to Mr Dembler never came to light. The court had been told Pawlowski’s history of violence and Chmielewski’s “chilling absence of any empathy or remorse”. Their “cold-blooded and calculated actions” in covering up what they had done reinforced her concerns, said the judge.

She handed the pair jail sentences of 16 and a half years with an extended determinate period of one year. They will not be considered for parole until at least two thirds of the sentence is carried out and will be subject to license conditions until the end of the sentence as a whole – namely 17 and a half years.

Concluding the hearing, Mrs Justice Stacey made a public commendation to the brave teenagers who found Mr Dembler’s body and raised the alarm. She also commended the officers and staff involved in the case for their “diligence” in the “painstaking” investigation, as well as the jury, barristers and court staff.

Finally, she praised Mr Dembler’s family who she said had acted with dignity through the proceedings. “Dignity”, she said, “which was not afforded to Tomasz in death by these defendants”.

In an emotional statement read out to the court, Mr Dembler’s brother Krzysztof told he struggled to put into words how the death of their loved one has devastated the family. “When I did hear the full extent of what had happened to Tomasz I felt physically sick,” he said.

“It was like them telling me about a horror film, not real life. What horrendous pain and torture he must have had to go through.”

In an address to the defendants, he said in his statement: “You all disgust me. And I can only hope you think of Tomasz and have the image of what you did to him every single day for the rest of your lives.”

Remembering his brother as a kind, funny and gentle man, he said “As a family we will never forget him and will always love him very much.”

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