Father, 41, ‘murdered his son, two, after shooting him with a BB gun, stabbing him and smothering him with a pillow out of spite towards his ex-partner’, court hears
A father murdered his two-year-old son after shooting him with a BB gun, stabbing him with a skewer and smothering him with a pillow out of spite towards his ex-partner, a court has heard.
Prosecutors said Lukasz Czapla’s fury towards his former girlfriend Patrycja Szczesniak is what motivated him to kill their son Julius at his home address in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, in November 2020.
The 41-year-old former IT technician is on trial accused of murdering the toddler, and has previously offered to plead guilty to culpable homicide, but this has been rejected by the Crown.
Prosecutors said Lukasz Czapla’s fury towards his former girlfriend Patrycja Szczesniak is what motivated him to kill their son Julius (pictured) at his home address in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, in November 2020
At a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh today, Alan Cameron, prosecuting, told a 15-strong jury that the accused was ‘motivated with anger towards Patrycja when he killed his son’.
After referencing details of how Julius was killed, and a conversation between Czapla and his friend Wojciech Marchlewski where the accused said he would ‘kill’ or ‘smash’ his son, Mr Cameron said to the jury: ‘You should be in no doubt to convict him of the crime of murder based on that evidence.’
He then re-read a transcript from a phone call between the accused and Mr Marchlewski which took place several weeks after the alleged murder.
It included comments such as: ‘I started talking to myself that she was so f****** annoying… for f***’s sake I am so f****** pissed off… the way she ignores me, it really angers me… I was absolutely rageous about her, how could she ignore me?’
Earlier, the court saw text messages between the two parents hours before Julius was killed where Ms Szczesniak had mentioned a new partner.
When asked by Czapla for more details about him, she declined to comment further.
Messages were then sent from the accused to Ms Szczesniak that contained sexual content, which she did not reply to.
A final message Czapla sent to her before he killed their son included: ‘You’re raising him with another guy, soon enough I’ll have to pay alimony.’
Mr Cameron also referenced previous evidence that heard Czapla was paranoid about his former partner being unfaithful at the beginning stages of their seven-year relationship, which the accused said has been exaggerated.
The court had previously heard evidence from three psychiatrists who assessed Czapla’s mental condition.
Tributes left in memory of the tragic two-year-old, who was allegedly murdered by his father
Dr Deborah Mountain, who interviewed him hours after Julius was killed, said the accused showed no signs of mental illness.
Senior consultant psychiatrists Dr Alexander Quinn and Dr Khuram Khan, who assessed Czapla multiple times, clashed over some diagnoses, but both agreed the accused had depression, though not severely.
Addressing the jury, Mr Cameron said members are required to decide whether or not Czapla was suffering from ‘diminished responsibility’ at the time of Julius’s death, which could reduce the offence from murder to culpable homicide.
He explained this meant that Czapla had to have been ‘suffering from an abnormality of mind that substantially impaired his ability to control his conduct at the time of the crime’.
Evidence has shown the accused had consumed alcohol and taken anti-depressant medication the night he killed his son.
Voluntary intoxication cannot amount to diminished responsibility, the court heard. However, if someone is intoxicated, and they have some sort of mental disorder that should inhibit their ability to control their conduct, then it can apply.
Mr Cameron told the jury: ‘The accused voluntarily consumed alcohol and drugs.
‘His impulse was lowered and he acted on his emotions and killed his son to get back at her (Ms Szczesniak).
‘Depression played a minor role, and certainly didn’t substantially impair his ability to control his conduct. Alcohol and drugs did this.’
He added: ‘He was furious with his ex-partner… in a fit of anger and spite he killed his son to hurt his former partner.’
Mr Cameron closed his speech saying ‘diminished responsibility has not been proved’.
A teddy bear with the message ‘fly high baby boy’ is left in memory of the tragic toddler
Iain McSporran QC, defending, read out an opinion given by Dr Quinn after he interviewed the accused for a third time in July 2021, during which Czapla gave a ‘harrowing’ account of how he killed his son.
Dr Quinn’s assessment, which was read out in court, said: ‘It would appear that Mr Czapla’s depressive illness had a substantial role to play in the events which led to the killing of his son.
‘It is my opinion that his depressive illness would have led to a substantial impairment in Mr Czapla’s ability to control his conduct.’
Mr McSporran told the jury: ‘The words used by Dr Quinn, engaged by prosecution, supports the professional expert opinion that the conditions for diminished responsibility were met.’
He added: ‘Lukasz Czapla loved his son Julius, he was a caring, loving father – if anything, he was over-protective.
‘I would say the killing of Julius is simply inconceivable, it goes against nature, it’s utterly incomprehensible, yet it can be understood. Not excused, but understood.
‘This loving father killed his son because his depressive illness had a substantial role that led to the killing.
‘His depressive illness had substantially impaired his ability to control his conduct.’
Czapla has pleaded guilty to nine other charges which include dangerous driving, drug possession and having an air weapon.
All evidence, before Lord Beckett, has concluded.