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MURDER TRIAL Man accused of murdering homeless pal is 'proven and admitted liar', court hears

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Sebastian Barczuk arrives at the CCJ on Parkgate Street, Dublin in connection with the murder of Michal Kurek

Sebastian Barczuk arrives at the CCJ on Parkgate Street, Dublin in connection with the murder of Michal Kurek

Collins Courts

Sebastian Barczuk arrives at the CCJ on Parkgate Street, Dublin in connection with the murder of Michal Kurek

A man on trial accused of murdering his former flatmate by stabbing him 62 times is "a proven and admitted liar" who was "kite flying" when he was interviewed by detectives, a prosecution barrister has told a jury at the Central Criminal Court today.

Counsel for the State, Lorcan Staines SC, also asked the jury panel to be very careful before they accepted the defendant's narrative and "self-serving assertions

Mr Staines gave his closing speech on Thursday in the trial of Sebastian Barczuk (32), who is charged with murdering his homeless friend Michal Kurek (33) over three years ago

Mr Barczuk with an address at Briarwood Lawn, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Kurek at a place unknown within the State between August 3 and 4, 2017

Mr Kurek, a homeless man with addiction difficulties, was found lying face down in the gateway of a country lane in Ballyboughal with 62 stab wounds to his body, including 25 knife wounds to his back on the morning of August 4. A Nokia 105 mobile phone was located in the right hand pocket of the deceased's jeans and the handset was still powered on.

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Sebastian Barczuk

Sebastian Barczuk

Collins Photos

Sebastian Barczuk

Evidence has been given that a cyclist discovered the deceased's body lying next to a gateway in the Grange area of Ballyboughal on the morning of August 4. Former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis has testified that the Polish national died from "multiple stab wounds and with a contributory factor of blunt-force trauma to the head and chest".

Addressing the jury this afternoon, Mr Staines said there is only one charge on the issue paper, which was the offence of murder. Mr Kurek was stabbed 62 times into his chest, lungs, back and buttocks as well as suffering blunt force trauma to his head, submitted Mr Staines, adding that the killer who inflicted these wounds was presumed to have intended the natural and probable consequences of his actions, which was death.

Mr Staines reminded the jury that the case was about who murdered Mr Kurek and not whether he was murdered. The barrister said that Mr Kurek and Mr Barczuk were friends, who had worked with each other and lived together on two occasions.

The accused man described Mr Kurek in his statement to gardai on August 13, 2017 as homeless, a drug user and said he was like his brother, noted Mr Staines. However, the lawyer pointed out that the defendant went further in his comments and "spoke ill" of Mr Kurek by saying that he always tried to be smarter or better than others, was scared of certain people and had previously received phone calls from gypsies.

Counsel said Mr Barczuk was a "proven and admitted liar", who was "kite flying" when he spoke to gardai and he asked the jury to be very careful before they accepted his narrative and "self-serving assertions". The lawyer told the jury to consider if a murderer who was trying "to throw gardai off the scent" might insert these things into his narrative.

Mr Staines outlined that this was a circumstantial case and it was the combined effect of these pieces of evidence in the case which came down to their tolerance for coincidence. "Ask yourself when coincidence is placed on top of coincidence when does it become an affront to your common sense," he stressed.

The barrister drew the jury's attention to the statement which Mr Barczuk gave gardai on August 13 2017, only four days after his friend's body was formally identified, where he admitted to picking Mr Kurek up from Clonsilla Train Station but lied and said it had taken place in July, two weeks previously. Mr Staines highlighted that this was an important lie and it could not have been July as Mr Barczuk did not have the Fiat Punto until August 3. Questioning these lies, counsel asked the jury why the accused would lie about how long it was since he last saw his friend and what was the reasonable possible explanation for these lies.

Going through the evidence in the trial, Mr Staines said there were six interactions between the accused's phone and Mr Kurek's phone on August 3 and no light had been shed as to why these calls had taken place. Furthermore, the lawyer noted the defendant said he only found out about Mr Kurek's death on August 9 and had not attempted to call him between August 3 and that date. "His friend is missing for at least six days and he doesn't even make an attempt to contact him. Why not if you didn't know he was dead," he indicated.

Pointing to the evidence of the Fiat Punto, Mr Staines said it was established that Mr Barczuk bought the vehicle on August 2 and sold it again very quickly afterwards. He submitted that each individual record cannot draw an inference but when one marries the CCTV footage of the Fiat Punto in north Dublin with the cell site analysis in the case then the jury were entitled to draw one.

In April 2018, Mr Barczuk was interviewed by gardai as a suspect in the case and told bare-faced repeated lies about the Fiat Punto, said Mr Staines. "Why lie about a Punto, it's not a crime to have a Punto, what is the logic for the lie. There is no possible explanation about why one would lie about that unless you're trying to distance yourself from the Punto," he continued.

The jury has viewed a montage of CCTV footage of a blue Fiat Punto travelling from the Clonsilla Inn at 9.18pm on August 3, through Lispopple Cross in Co Dublin at 00.19 and past Drishogue in Oldtown, Co Dublin at 00.56 on the morning of August 4. The jury also heard evidence from Ms Ewa Raczka, who told Mr Staines that on August 2, 2017 - two days before the discovery of Mr Kurek's body - she sold Mr Barczuk a Fiat Punto.

Counsel went on to tell the jury that there was no activity on Mr Kurek's phone for more than three hours after he received a text message from the accused at 9.45pm on the night of August 3. However, there was activity on Mr Barczuk's phone and the "next strange coincidence" was that the phone in the deceased's pocket at Ballyboughal had very limited telephone records, indicated Mr Staines. "The six telephone interactions between Mr Kurek and Mr Barczuk aren't on the phone, the text message sent by Mr Barczuk to Mr Kurek at 9.45pm is not on the phone so what is the explanation for that?," asked the barrister.

The barrister further asked the jurors to consider what the accused's DNA was doing on the keys and back of Mr Kurek's phone. Evidence has been given that the lower amount of DNA in a mixed profile taken from Mr Kurek's Nokia phone matched the DNA of the accused Mr Barczuk.

Mr Staines also pointed to the fact that Mr Barczuk had repeatedly told gardai that he was never in Ballyboughal on the night yet his phone was pinging in Ballyboughal. He noted that the accused man's phone made a data connection at a cell site near Ballyboughal in north county Dublin at 00.53 and 00.55 on the morning Mr Kurek's body was discovered, while the deceased's phone also used a cell site at Ballyboughal at 00.47 and 00.52 on the same morning. "Is it reasonably possible this is a coincidence or is that coincidence an affront to common sense?" he asked.

In summary, Mr Staines said that the accused told gardai in his interviews that they had "nothing on" him. The lawyer said it was not for himself, gardai or the judge to assess if this statement was correct but the jury panel. "It is for you to use your common sense and life experience and deliver a true verdict in accordance with the evidence in the case," he concluded.

Defence counsel Dominic McGinn SC, for Mr Barczuk, will give his closing speech to the jury tomorrow.

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