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Saturday, 13 August 2011

England Is Sick Pole Monika Tells Of Riot Blaze Hell

The Polish mum who had to leap for her life after rioters torched her home said last night: "England has become a sick society."

Speaking for the first time to The Sun, Monika Konczyk, 32, said she came to London to seek a better life - but was nearly killed by thugs in a nightmare riot blaze.

The hard-working Polish mum said she expected a "wonderful" fresh start when she arrived here five months ago.

Instead she found herself at the mercy of rampaging arsonists and looters as mayhem swept across London on Monday.

The image of Monika leaping from her flat against a backdrop of flames filled The Sun's Page One - and was beamed round the world to Britain's shame.

Poundland shop assistant Monika said: "I came to England because I thought it is a great country full of kind and gentle people.

"I thought London was a civilised society full of gentlemen and ladies - but it is not like that. England has become a sick society.

"I found myself jumping for my life after being attacked by thugs and thieves. They set fire to my building without any thought for anyone's safety.

"They were happy for me to die. They were like animals - greedy, selfish animals who thought only of themselves."

Desperate Monika had screamed "I'm going to die here" as a wall of flame and red-hot cinders swept ever closer to her flat in Croydon, South London.

Her terrifying 45-minute ordeal ended only when she jumped from her first-floor window into the arms of riot cops 16ft below.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Monika said of the rioters: "I am shocked to find people behaving like this in England.

"It is not what I expected of the English. I have never seen anything like this in Poland.

"Polish people are hard-working and respectable. They believe in working for a living, not stealing from others.

"If you want nice clothes or a new TV, you don't smash shop windows and loot them - you work to pay for them.

"My life in Poland was very hard, I worked very long hours for very little money.

"We are making sacrifices to come here so we can support ourselves and our families.

"My friends all told me what a wonderful country this is. I hope I can recover from this and go on to have a happy time here."

Monika became trapped in her rented flat above a shop just 15 yards from the 140-year-old Reeves furniture store that was blazing unchecked.

Fearing her own building was about to be engulfed, she called her sister Beata Bozenkow, who lives ten minutes away. Beata, 37, told her to flee.

Monika, who moved in just three weeks ago, frantically packed a bag.

But her flat had only a door to the rear of the building - and that exit was blocked by flames.

Monika said: "I tried to escape but it was like facing a wall of flame. Big red cinders were falling on my head and the wind was pushing the fire at me.

"Flames were coming up over my head. The fire was so hot I knew if I got too close it would kill me. I thought I was going to die - I thought I had lost my life."

She retreated back into her flat, which was rapidly filling with thick black smoke.

Terror ... store blazes out of control yards from Monika Konczyk's Croydon flat.

Monika desperately called her sister again. Beata and her husband Jurgen Mecaj raced to the scene.

But their way was blocked by cops trying to quell the riot. Tiler Jurgen, 31, said: "The police thought I was a looter, they said I could not get through. I begged them, saying 'Please, my sister-in-law is there'. Then they believed me and we all ran down."

Beata made a frantic call to terrified Monika, urging her to come to the window.

Drama ... Monika Konczyk points to the window where she leapt out.

Monika said: "I was shaking so badly I could not open the window. But once I managed it I did not hesitate. I thought I was going to die in there. I did not care if I broke my legs and my arms on the ground. I saw a policeman with his arms outstretched and I just jumped and he caught me.

"Then they told us all to run away as fast as we could.

"Now when I see the picture of me jumping I feel very lucky to have my life. I never hoped to be famous, I just wanted to escape."

Monika, originally from the small Polish city of Koronowo, had been watching TV on a day off when terror came to her street.

It was the third day of the London riots but she had no idea Croydon was to be the flashpoint.

Monika said: "I was warned at 4.30pm that there was trouble but didn't give it another thought.

"Two hours later I heard shouting and the sound of broken glass. I started getting nervous. I looked out and saw a young boy with his hood up running down the street with a huge plasma TV."

More than 50 looters were smashing windows ever closer to Monika's home and a bus was torched. Monika, who ventured out to see what was happening, said: "I saw boys smash the windows of the furniture store and struggle to steal sofas. At the back of the store I saw a boy start a small fire on a bed.

"I was becoming very fearful so I went back into my flat. I thought it was best to stay inside where it was safe." But she was soon in mortal danger as the store was engulfed by fire.

Close ... Monika, left, with sister Beata and Jurgen.

Monika said: "I came here for a new start. I never thought this could happen. It is the first time I have ever seen anything like this. These people are so stupid, it is terrible. I could have died, and for what?


"I am so grateful to the police and my family for saving me."

Monika arrived in Britain on March 18 after a 23-hour bus trip.

It was an escape from the drudgery of Poland where she made £200 a month working 12 hours a day, seven days a week as a convenience store supervisor.

She had become pregnant with her son Damian after leaving school, and married.

Monika later divorced and moved into a one-bedroom flat while continuing to work for a pittance. Beata, who moved to Britain five years ago, begged her to join her.

Monika overcame her qualms about a new country and language and made the move. She soon found work in discount shop Poundland - and never missed a day until Monday's terror. Damian, now ten, lives with his father in Poland.

Monika said: "Despite what has happened, I still believe I can build a better life here."

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