Jailed: Armed robbers who targeted British expats’ luxury cars in Dordogne

File picture of French gendarme (AFP via Getty Images)
File picture of French gendarme (AFP via Getty Images)

Members of a gang of armed robbers who targeted luxury sports cars belonging to British expats in the Dordogne have been imprisoned after shooting an Englishman as he tried to defend his Aston Martin.

David Dunsby, 63, suffered multiple pellet wounds during the attack at his home in the village of Javerlhac-et-la-Chapelle-Saint-Robert, South West France, last year.

Following a day-long trial, six men including an English national were on Tuesday beginning their sentences after being found guilty of “aggravated theft and concealment” of stolen property.

Karol Ciezynski, the 37-year-old who has admitted pulling the trigger, was handed a three-year jail term by judges sitting at Perigueux Criminal Court.

Toby Powell, who is 22 and English, received a seven-month sentence, while Sokoi Auty, a Kosovan, got 18 months, and Guilhem Batard got six months.

Two other gang members were sentenced to a total of six months inside, with three suspended.

The gang of six had all been looking for ‘upmarket cars’ when they attacked Mr Dunsby.

He is believed to be the father of the late Corporal James Dunsby, a British soldier who died aged 31 while on a route march testing would-be recruits to the Special Air Service SAS reserves in 2013.

Ciezynski originally faced an attempted murder charge following the shooting of Mr Dunsby, but this was later reduced to aggravated theft.

The court heard how Ciezynski pointed a shotgun at Mr Dunsby and demanded the keys to his Aston Martin sports car on March 7 2021.

Ciezynski claimed he “shot into the ground” in order to scare Mr Dunsby, but in fact he was hit by pellets in numerous areas, including the neck and chest.

Ballistics reports submitted in court suggested Ciezynski’s mitigation “made no sense”, said deputy prosecutor Stéphane Renard.

At one stage Ciezynski punched his victim, but insisted in court: “I didn’t want to kill anyone.”

After getting hold of the keys, the gang sped away, and the Aston Martin was later caught on speed cameras driving at almost 120mph. It was spotted parked up by police a few days later.

Mr Dunsby was rushed to hospital and needed an emergency operation to remove the pellets from his body.

He has since been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court evidence,

Ciezynski and Powell admitted burglary, after DNA evidence placed them inside the stolen car.

But they insisted their attack was carried out “on the spur of the moment” while they were high on alcohol and drugs, including cannabis and cocaine.

They said they had picked up the hunting gun from a hiding place in woods close to Javerlhac, and admitted wearing masks and gloves throughout the attack.

Further evidence showed that the gang also stole a Chevrolet Corvette from a British couple in the village of La Chapelle-Montmoreau, where they also took property valued at almost £60,000.

Auty was described in court as the “director of operations” of the gang, which was based in the Dordogne, an area of France hugely popular with British expats and second home owners.

Auty was said to have rewarded other gang members with supplies of cocaine, as well as profits from the sale of the stolen cars.

In 2015, a British coroner highlighted “gross failures” within the military that led to the deaths of James Dunsby on a 16-mile route march in the Brecon Beacons, south Wales.

It was the hottest day of the year when Corporal Dunsby, 31, collapsed and died, along with Lance Corporals Craig Roberts and Edward Maher.