Corby homeless volunteer assaulted in the woods by man she was trying to help

Ashlee says the incident won't stop the work of her volunteers

By Kate Cronin
Friday, 14th February 2020, 2:50 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:14 pm

A Corby Rise founder was pushed to the ground by a homeless man who was upset with her over a misunderstanding.

Ashlee Duncan, who started her organisation a year ago to provide food, clothes and practical help to the town's rough sleepers was assaulted by Andrzej Kurpiewski, 54, after a disagreement over some tickets he had been given for a Christmas dinner.

When he was taken into police custody, he assaulted a police officer by spitting in his face then smeared faeces and food all over his cell.

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The defendant pushed Ms Duncan to the floor and jumped on top of her

He has been held on remand since the incident at the end of December, but will be released back into the community today (Friday, February 14) after magistrates heard he had already served nearly two months in jail.

Kurpiewski was interview by the Northants Telegraph just hours before the incident as part of a story on the future of the town's homeless community. He is pictured on our video (above) singing carols next to a Christmas tree in the tented village in woodland in the town.

Northampton Magistrates Court heard this morning how Ms Duncan and her fellow volunteer Stacey Walden were called to Corby Swimming Pool on December 17 last year to help Kurpiewski with an issue he was having. He produced some Christmas dinner tickets and Ms Duncan asked him how he had got them. The issue was discussed and the pair of volunteers accompanied the defendant back to his tent in the woods.

But when they got there, prosecuting solicitor Shabbir Issat told the court that Kurpiewski grabbed Ms Duncan's coat and pushed her to the ground, before jumping on top of her.

Ashlee said the incident won't affect her work with Corby's homeless community

Several days later he was arrested by the police and taken to the cells at Weekley Woods Justice Centre in Kettering. While there, he spat in the face of one of the detention officers and smeared bodily fluids throughout his cell in protest to what he believed to be undignified treatment.

Matt Aldwinckle, mitigating for Kurpiewski who pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and one of criminal damage, said that his client claimed he had misread what was being said to him by the victim.

"Effectively, what he's done is a joke from his point of view.

"He meant nothing by it. He wasn't trying to hurt anybody or cause any distress."

The defendant is back in the community today

He said that Ms Duncan had not been injured and that his client was suffering from some mental health issues for which he has previously spent time in hospital.

The court was told that, while in prison, Polish national Kurpiewski - who had an interpreter at court - had had a difficult time and had been treated 'robustly.'

He ranted several times from the dock, was ordered to stop shouting, and was eventually taken down to the cells before the magistrates had had a chance to finish delivering their sentence.

He was given a total of four weeks in jail for the assaults and one week for the criminal damage, to be served concurrently. Because he has already been in prison for 50 days, he has deemed to have served that sentence and will be released to Corby this afternoon, although it is believed the town's new shelter is already full to capacity.

Kurpiewski was also ordered to pay both his victims £50 in compensation and £50 for the clean-up of his cell.

He was supported in court by Corby Council homeless outreach worker Martin Sawers.

Magistrate David Apparicio said: "We consider these matters to be very serious. We have someone trying to help you and the police who are also serving and trying to help you. They should not have to endure assaults of any kind."

Speaking after the case, Ms Duncan told the Northants Telegraph: "I'm upset that it has happened but had to take it further to safeguard the other guys and our volunteers and the public.

"In general this is a one off as we work closely with vulnerable adults, but our work continues to support the community. Although this is a little set back we will not allow one individual to ruin our close relationship with the homeless community and the service Corby RISE provides."