Norwich arsonist petrol bombed city venue and pub, court told

PUBLISHED: 07:30 10 May 2014

Damage caused to the Wild Man pub and Karma: Photos: Pete Walsh

Damage caused to the Wild Man pub and Karma: Photos: Pete Walsh


A Norwich arsonist who petrol bombed the Karma Kafe and Wildman pub in Bedford Street, Norwich, has been given a hospital order by a judge who said it was more by luck then judgement no one was killed.

A man risked lives of late-night revellers, in Norwich, by petrol bombing a Norwich nightspot and city pub in a series of planned arson attacks, a court heard.

A judge said it was more by luck then judgement no one was killed as one of the targets, the Karma Kafe, in Bedford Street, still had more than 100 customers inside. There were also other people outside the venue and one young woman had her hair set alight in the blast, which happened in the early hours of November 10.

The woman also suffered burns to her arm but miraculously suffered no serious injury, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Grzegorz Kowalski, 40, planned the bomb attacks as he had a grudge against the Karma Kafe and the Wildman pub. He also started a fire,at the Norfolk Recovery Partnership offices (TADS) in Unthank Road, which is the treatment and recovery service for people in Norfolk affected by drug and alcohol issues, Fortunately the offices were closed at the time.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said: “It would appear his perception was that he had a grievance against all the targets.”

He said the first attack was on the Karma Kafe, which had 115 people enjoying an evening out and about 15 people were also standing around outside.

After launching the petrol bomb at the building Kowalski was chased by one of the door staff but managed to give him the slip before petrol bombing the Wildman pub.

Mr Youell said he had a grudge against the pub because they had asked him to leave.

Mr Youell said although the Wildman pub was closed, the landlord and his family were asleep in the building.

The final attack was on the offices in Unthank Road.

Mr Youell said that all the fires were put out before they took hold but there was some damage.

The incidents were caught on CCTV and a police community support officer recognised Kowalski from a description which was circulated. His home in Chapelfield was searched and items were recovered including a note which said how he was annoyed at being refused entry to a Halloween party at the Karma Kafe.

Kowalski admitted arson with intent to endanger lives at the Karma Kafe and the Wildman. He also admitted arson at the TADS offices.

However the court heard that Kowalski had been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had to made subject to a hospital order.

Judge Nicholas Coleman said had it not been for his mental condition he would have given him a life sentence.

“That is how serious I regard these matters. While no one was in fact killed, it was more by luck then judgement.”

After hearing from a psychiatrist, Judge Coleman made the order and is to direct that Kowalski be deported once he is considered well enough to be removed.

He said that reports showed he was a “serious risk”

Michael Clare, for Kowalski, said that he had a Polish passport and had been in Britain for three and half years.

He said that Kowalski was being kept at the Norvic clinic in Norwich.

Following the arson attacks, Nick Haynes, 28, who works for Norwich Security Specialists Ltd, and works at Karma Kafe, grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the blaze at the Karma Kafe after colleagues Mark Dagless and Jamie Shewring, helped pat out the flames on the injured woman.

He also helped put out the blaze at the Wildman pub.

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