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Six-years-in jail for man who killed victim by stabbing him 22-times

Vallence and McGrath
Vallence and McGrath

A KILLER who had blood on his hands when he confessed to stabbing a man to death was jailed today for six years.

Andrzej Wawrzyniak (38) stabbed 44-year-old Jacek Kozakiewicz 22 times during a drunken row inside a squat both men were sharing in Dublin.

Wawrzyniak, a Polish man of no fixed abode, had originally been charged with murder but was convicted of Mr Kozakiewicz’s manslaughter following a trial earlier this year.

He had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Kozakiewicz at the former Vallence & McGrath pub on Dublin's North Wall Quay on February 26, 2014.

At a sentencing hearing today at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Robert Eagar said the accused and the deceased, who was also Polish, had been living in an abandoned public house along with other Polish nationals.

Mr Justice Eagar said life in the squat had “revolved around drinking”.

On the date in question, an argument broke out between the accused and the deceased, during which the deceased suffered 22 stab wounds – six of which were to his neck.

The judge added that alcohol had been the “reason for being” for the residents of the squat and that it was a “bleak state of affairs”.

Describing the events which took place immediately after Wawrzyniak stabbed Mr Kozakiewicz, Mr Justice Eagar said the accused had fled the squat and then told a Luas driver at the nearby Point depot to “get the guards, I’m after killing someone”.

Sentencing Wawrzyniak to six years’ imprisonment, with one year suspended, Mr Justice Eagar said that the normal sentence for such a violent killing would be nine years.

However, the judge said the fact the accused had asked the Luas driver to call gardai and that he had later impressed prison authorities with his willingness to help other inmates were both mitigating factors in this case.

 Wawryzniak was also jailed for three-and-half years after he admitted to assaulting Filip Talaj inside the squat on the same date.

Both sentences will run concurrently.


PREVIOUS EVIDENCE:

At a previous hearing, Sergeant John Grady, of Store Street garda station told the court that

both the convicted man and the deceased, as well as two others, were living in the abandoned pub, where the consumption of alcohol was a significant and daily feature.

The sergeant said that on the night of the killing, a Luas driver at the Point Depot stop became alarmed when he saw blood on Wawrzyniak's hands so he tried to prevent him getting on board the tram 

Wawrzyniak told the driver he had killed a man and asked him to call gardai.

He then led gardai to the squat, the sergeant said, where they found three people. One of them, Mr Talaj, appeared injured and he told the gardai that Wawrzyniak had attacked him with a knife.

Another couple were asleep in the darkness.

The court heard that Jacek's body was found lying on the floor of a makeshift kitchen with more than twenty stab wounds, most of which were to the neck and face.

The sergeant told the court that during interviews Wawrzyniak said that Jacek had grabbed his throat and punched him in the face. They were grappling on the floor when he saw a knife, grabbed it and stabbed Jacek, he told the gardai, the court heard.

Wawrzyniak has two previous convictions, from 2014, for Public Order offences.

A victim impact statement, written by the deceased man's mother, who could not travel to Ireland to attend the hearing, was read to the court by prosecuting counsel Sean Gillane SC. 

"My heart is bleeding," she wrote, "broken into a thousand little pieces."

"I raised Jacek myself. I sacrificed my youth for him and his brother."

 "I am still having nightmares."

 "I suffer from depression. Life has lost its meaning. I do not feel like going out to see other people and I am in constant pain."

 Sergeant Grady told Micheal Bowman SC, defending, that the squat was described as "Jacek's place" and that he was the "boss". 

 The court heard that there was a set of rules in place whereby the deceased preferred people not go out during the daylight hours.

 Mr Bowman said that his client came to Ireland in 2013, after having lived and worked in the UK for over 12 years.


EVIDENCE DURING TRIAL

During seven days of the trial the jury heard that Mr Kozakiewicz had found a way into Vallance & McGrath through an unsecured manhole that leads into the cellar of the former landmark Dublin pub. 

Inside, the electrician had wired some rooms for electricity and created central heating and a makeshift kitchen.

Five Polish people lived there, with Mr Kozakiewicz described as "the boss" who decided who would stay and who would go. The main rule of the squat was that nobody should come or go during daylight hours so as not to draw attention.

 

Giving his evidence, Filip Talaj said that on the night of February 26 an argument erupted and Wawrzyniak assaulted him with a knife, stabbing him several times. 

He said he ran away to hide from his attacker, only emerging when he heard Wawrzyniak leave the squat.

Having left the squat, Wawrzyniak walked to a nearby Luas stop and boarded a tram. The driver became alarmed when he saw blood on Wawrzyniak's hands so he tried to prevent him getting on board. Wawrzyniak told the driver he had killed a man and asked him to call gardai.

He then led gardai to the body of Jacek, lying on the floor of the makeshift kitchen with more than 20 stab wounds. Most of them were to the neck and face. 

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy focused on three injuries - one that partially severed the spine and two others that severed major blood vessels in the neck. She said the injury to the spine would have left him paralyzed on one side and unable to feel anything on the other. The other two injuries caused him to bleed to death.

Prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn SC said that the State's case was that Jacek was passed out on the floor after several hours drinking vodka, when Mr Wawrzyniak attacked him. He said there had been bad blood between the two men and that they had argued because Wawrzyniak had broken the rule about not leaving during daylight.

Speaking on behalf of Wawrzyniak, defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said that far from being asleep, Jacek had attacked Wawrzyniak. He said the atmosphere in the squat was "dark and unpleasant". Violence was commonplace and he said the deceased man had been responsible for much of that.

Mr Bowman said his client "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 Wawrzyniak's state of mind at the time. He said there had been difficulties between the two men before and that Wawrzyniak was "panicking and terrified" when Jacek attacked him.

In garda interviews, seen by the jury, Wawrzyniak said that Jacek had grabbed his throat and punched him in the face. They were grappling on the floor when he saw a knife, grabbed it and stabbed Jacek.

Justice Robert Eagar told the jury that there were three verdicts open to them. If they believed Mr Wawrzyniak acted in reasonable self-defense then the verdict should be not guilty. If they were 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 concluded that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defence and that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, then the proper verdict would have been guilty of murder.