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Thug stuffed girlfriend into suitcase and threw her into river to drown

Tomasz Kocik
Tomasz Kocik

A violent and controlling man who severely beat his girlfriend and then disposed of her unconscious body in the most "grotesque and demeaning" way by throwing her into the Grand Union Canal inside a suitcase has been jailed for life.

Forklift truck driver Tomasz Kocik, of Buckingham Road, Harlesden, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering 23-year-old Marta Ligman between April 28 and May 10 this year.

The 5ft 2in delicatessen worker may have been alive with just minutes of air left in the suitcase at the time Kocik was caught on CCTV dragging her from their flat to the canal in north west London.

Her body was found 10 days later when the occupants of a houseboat spotted her dyed red hair streaming from the case after it collided with the hull.

In his defence, Kocik, who is Polish, claimed he found Miss Ligman dead at their flat after days of amphetamine fuelled bondage sex sessions.

But the jury rejected his lies and convicted him after deliberating for just over a day.

Jailing him for a minimum of 18 years and six months, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC told him that the evidence showed Miss Ligman had suffered a "severe beating" at his hands.

He went on: "Some time before 6am on May 1 this year you folded her up in a suitcase. She must have at least been unconscious.

"Dead or dying you then treated her body in a grotesque and demeaning way hauling her in a suitcase down to the canal and carrying a stick to try to submerge the case when you got there.

"Your actions were carefully considered and designed at all times to help you to get away with murder if you could."

He then set about a "determined" course of action to mislead her family, friends and police by using Ms Ligman's Facebook account to "leave a false trail", the judge said.

Kocik gave no reaction in the dock as he was sent down.

The couple met online in a dating chatroom while Miss Ligman was living with her family in Poland.

Marta Ligman

She travelled to London to live with Kocik in 2012 but by the time of her death, the relationship had soured.

Prosecutor Tim Cray had told jurors that Miss Ligman's colleagues described Kocik as an "obsessively jealous controlling boyfriend" who was violent towards her.

On May 1 Kocik, 38, was caught on CCTV dragging a large dark suitcase half a mile from his home to the canal towpath early in the morning before returning home with wet trousers more than an hour later.

The trunk was "extremely heavy" and he appeared to be struggling to move it as he made his way through the streets of north-west London.

Miss Ligman's Polish identity card and bank card was found burned and cut up by a member of the public along the route that Kocik had taken when he disposed of her body in the canal.

He then failed to report her missing until after the body was discovered and had been all over the news, the court heard.

Meanwhile, her friends and family in Poland had been "very worried" they had not heard from her and kept asking him to go to the police.

When police retrieved the suitcase from the water 10 days later, they found the eight stone victim lying in a tight foetal position wrapped in bin bags and curtains.

A post-mortem examination revealed injuries from a beating as well as hypothermia caused by being trapped in a confined space. The examination showed she had not drowned.

The pathologist could not rule out the possibility she could have been alive when she was put into the suitcase.