Murder accused freed after three years in custody

Murder accused freed after three years in custody

A Polish man was freed today after three years in custody when a trial judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to put him before a jury writes Eoin Reynolds.

Dariusz Weckowicz (51), pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bogdan Michalkiewicz (41), at Westside Apartments, Letterkenny, Co Donegal on May 13, 2013.

Today Justice Patrick McCarthy directed the jury of eight men and four women to acquit him of murder. He told the jurors that the prosecution evidence "at its height" could not lead to a rational conclusion that he is guilty.

Mr Weckowicz was released from custody. The court has heard previously from counsel for Mr Weckowicz, Brendan Grehan SC, that he has been in custody since being charged in the summer of 2013.

Krzystof Grzegorski (22), remains on trial for Bogdan's murder. He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter. His plea was not accepted.

Prosecution counsel Alex Owens today closed the case against Mr Grzegorski. He told the jury that they must consider whether Mr Grzegorski intended to kill or cause serious injury to Bogdan.

He said the attack could not be considered a "frenzy" as had been suggested during the trial, as the evidence showed a prolonged attack with multiple weapons used.

The dead man's injuries included damage to the ribs, a smashed skull and multiple stab wounds. He said that Bogdan was "chased around by Mr Grzegorski" and beaten to death. He said the evidence suggested that he beat him with the leg of a table and dropped a television on him as well as stabbing him multiple times in the head and abdomen.

"This was not a sudden loss of temper but a pursuit over a number of minutes with a number of objects," he said.

After the killing, Mr Grzegorski went to a local supermarket where he stole a bottle of vodka. He was arrested a short time later for that theft.

Counsel for Mr Grzegorski, Michael Bowman SC, said that his client admits to the killing and accepts that it was an "egregious, heinous and grotesque act". He told the jury that they would have to consider his state of mind and that to convict him of murder they would have to accept beyond reasonable doubt that he knew what he was doing.

"If he was so drunk that he could not form an intent then the correct verdict is one of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter," he said. He pointed out that five vodka bottles and two empty pill packets were found in the apartment where Bogdan was killed.

He described the actions of Mr Grzegorski as irrational and illogical. Having killed Bogdan, rather than lie low or run away, he left the apartment, went to a supermarket and stole a bottle of vodka in full view of CCTV. He was subsequently arrested and convicted for stealing the vodka. Gardai, who did not know at that time that Bogdan was dead, took his blood-stained clothes and binned them.

"His actions are irrational in the extreme," he said asking the jury to imagine what a murderer with intent might do in the same situation. He said you would expect such a person to make themselves inconspicuous, burn their blood-stained clothes, wash themselves and lie low.

Mr Grzegorski was under a "fog of intoxication" and did not understand what he was doing.

Mr Grzegorski was 19 years old at the time and Mr Bowman said he had been drinking heavily since the age of 14. Aged 16 he was convicted of being drunk in public and a danger to himself and others.

Following the killing Mr Grzegorski went to the UK but later handed himself over to police and returned to Ireland. He admitted his role in Bogdan's death during interviews with gardai in 2014.

In his charge to the jury, Justice Patrick McCarthy said that for a guilty verdict the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Grzegorski intended to kill or cause serious injury. He said that if a person forms an intent while drunk, that is the same as forming an intent while sober.

However, if a person is so drunk that they are not able to form an intent, the proper verdict would be one of manslaughter.

He added that the effect of drink "has to go so far as either to render him incapable of knowing what he is doing at all, or of knowing the consequences or probable consequences of his actions."

The jury will begin considering its verdict on Monday.

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