Murder accused believed he was in a life or death struggle

Andrzej Wawrzyniak
Andrzej Wawrzyniak

When a Polish man killed his housemate he believed he was in a "life and death struggle", his barrister told a jury at the Central Criminal Court today.

Andrzej Wawrzyniak (38), with no fixed address, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Jacek Kozakiewicz (44), at a derelict pub on Dublin's North Wall Quay on February 26, 2014. Mr Wawrzyniak pleaded guilty to a second count of assault causing harm to Filip Talaj (31), at the same place on the same date.

In his final address to the jury, defence counsel Michael Bowman SC described conditions in the squat, where five homeless Polish people lived, as "dark and unpleasant" and a place where violence was commonplace.

He told the jury that Mr Wawrzyniak's claim that he acted in self-defence makes sense and pointed to statements he made to gardai in which he said he was attacked first and "I thought for a minute I was going to die."

Mr Bowman said: "He found himself in a struggle which he believed to be a life and death struggle."

He pointed to Jacek's violent past including his convictions for carrying knives, and asked the jury to imagine his client's state of mind at the time. He said there had been difficulties between the two men and that Mr Wawrzyniak was "panicking and terrified" when Jacek attacked him.

Prosecution counsel Dominic McGinn SC said there was "not a shred of truth" in the claims Mr Wawrzyniak made to gardai. He said the evidence shows that Jacek was drunk and asleep on the floor when Mr Wawrzyniak attacked him with a knife and "killed him in cold blood".

He said a doctor had examined the accused man within hours of the killing and found only one injury that needed attention, a small cut to his hand. "This is not the sort of injury you would expect if he was attacked by Mr Kozakiewicz, who was a big strong man," he said.

He said the dead man had no defensive injuries and pointed to the evidence of Filip Talaj, who was there that night and said Jacek was asleep on the kitchen floor. 

Mr Talaj said he was drinking with Jacek and Mr Wawrzyniak in the kitchen and Jacek, who had been drinking for several hours, fell asleep on the floor. A fight flared up and

Mr Wawrzyniak attacked Filip with a knife, but he escaped and hid himself away. Mr McGinn said it was during this time that the accused man stabbed Jacek 22 times and then left the squat, walked to a nearby Luas stop and asked a tram driver to call gardai, saying "I've killed a man".

Mr McGinn said the motive might have been that Mr Wawrzyniak was bitter after having many arguments with Jacek in the couple of months they had lived together at the squat. He said it might have been that he was in a "drunken rage" after his fight with Filip Talaj. He said, whatever the motive, his intention was to kill or cause serious injury.

Justice Robert Eagar told the jury that there are three verdicts open to them. If they believe that Mr Wawrzyniak acted in reasonable self-defense then the verdict should be not guilty.

If they are satisfied that he could have been acting in self defense but that he used unreasonable force, then the verdict should be not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

If they think that the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self defense and that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, then the proper verdict is guilty of murder.

Justice Eagar will continue his charge to the jury of nine men and three women tomorrow.