The closing stages have been reached at the Central Criminal Court in the trial of a 51-year-old Slovakian landscape gardener charged with murdering his Polish flatmate.
Josef Szabo of Rathlin House, Waterville, Blanchardstown has pleaded not guilty to murdering Robert Kwiatkowski on April 20, 2007 at their home in Rathlin House.
The 33-year-old man died from a stab wound to the chest after his two other flatmates said they found him collapsed in the hallway. His blood was found in Mr Szabo’s bedroom.
Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, told the jury of three women and nine men to bear in mind that the incident happened two and a half years ago.
He said that there would therefore be discrepancies between the recollections of the Slovakian couple who lived with the defendant and the deceased.
“There’s nothing sinister,” he said about the evidence of Eve Kocokova and her partner, Ladislav Nemecheck, witnesses the defence described as liars.
He said they had been unshaken in their core evidence of a dispute between Mr Szabo and the victim. They were also fair about their own discussion with the victim about money he owed them.
“They were sure that Robert came into the kitchen and showed how his hand had been injured by Joseph closing the door on him,” he said, pointing out that the pathologist said the hand injury was consistent with this explanation.
“They told you that Robert was not happy about it and went back to Joseph’s room again,” he said. “That’s a natural course of events.”
Both witnesses had said they then heard a bang and ran out to the hall.
“They said they didn’t realise he’d been stabbed, but maybe that’s because you wouldn’t expect to find your flatmate stabbed in the hall,” he suggested, asking the jury to imagine the trauma of finding one‘s flatmate on the floor unable to breathe.
“The ambulance staff said there was no excessive blood on Robert’s top,” he added.
He asked the jury what jumped out of the defendant’s statement.
“There is no explanation as to how Robert’s blood got into Joseph’s bedroom,” he said.
“According to Joseph Szabo, Robert was not in his room.”
He said that not only was the victim’s blood found in the room but it was a forensic scientist’s contention that the blood’s pattern was consistent with his having bled in there.
“That’s fundamental evidence,” he said, adding that it supported the couple’s testimony.
He said the obvious reason for there being no explanation in the defendant’s statement was that the explanation would implicate Mr Szabo.
He reminded the jury of Mr Nemecheck’s evidence that Mr Szabo had offered him a knife while Mr Kwiatkowski was choking in order to cut a hole in his windpipe. Mr Nemecheck said he refused it.
“What was Josef Szabo up to?” he asked the jury. “Why prefer a knife to someone else in the apartment?”
Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, said that what was heard from Ms Kocokova and her partner was not the evidence of people having memory difficulties.
“It was riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and lies,” he said. “They rarely said they didn’t remember, quite the opposite.”
He said that when inconsistencies were put to them they stuck to their guns.
“Not only were they contradicting their statements, they were telling blatant lies about substantive matters, not details you might forget,” he said.
“If she’s lying about a, b and c, how do you know she’s not lying about d?” he asked in relation to Ms Kocokova.
“She found a good match in her partner, who lied to you too,” he added.
“All you have to do in relation to Eve and Ladislav is ask yourselves one simple question,” he said. “After they had finished in the witness box, did you believe you had listened to two truthful people?”
He said that if the answer was no, the jurors should acquit his client.
Mr Justice Barry White has now begun charging the jury, which will begin its deliberations tomorrow morning.