Polish man who stabbed man to death in Dublin pub found not guilty of murder
A Polish man who stabbed a fellow countryman to death in the abandoned pub where they lived has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Andrzej Wawrzyniak, (38), with no fixed address, had pleaded not guilty to murdering 44-year-old Jacek Kozakiewicz at the former Vallance & McGrath pub on Dublin's North Wall Quay on February 26, 2014. He pleaded guilty to a second charge of assault causing harm to Filip Talaj, another occupant of the squat.
The jury at the Central Criminal Court took a little over four hours to reach a unanimous verdict.
Justice Robert Eagar told Wawrzyniak that he was remanding him in custody until October 10 for a sentencing hearing.
Wawrzyniak replied: "Thank you judge."
The judge also thanked the jury of nine men and three women and excused them from jury service for five years.
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 defense and that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, then the proper verdict would have been guilty of murder.
Wawrzyniak will return to the Central Criminal Court on October 10 for a sentencing hearing.