A cage fighter and another man were yesterday jailed for life for murdering Polish-born Patryk Krupa.
Mr Krupa drowned in the Shannon outside Athlone while incapacitated with a head injury from a violent assault on June 20, 2014.
Leszek Sychulec, aged 34, a Polish cage fighter with an address at Drinan, Ballymahon, Co Longford, and Andrzej Gruchacz, aged 35, with an address in Warsaw, Poland, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Krupa at Bogganfin, Athlone, Co Roscommon.
On April 21, a jury deliberated for five hours before finding both men guilty of murdering Mr Krupa.
Garnet Orange, prosecuting, yesterday told the court he had been asked to read a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Krupa’s mother.
Mrs Krupa said her life has changed a lot since the death of her son and she cannot function properly anymore. “Nothing is the same anymore. I can’t sleep and I didn’t work for a year. I now only go to work twice a week as I cannot stand being around people,” she said.
Mrs Krupa said the last time she saw her son was when he was walking to the gym and if she had only stopped the car “nothing would have happened him”.
“I keep playing the day over and over again in my head, nothing will turn back the time,” she said.
The court heard that her son really wanted to be a father but that was taken from him.
“I thought I saw my son in town the other day but that wasn’t him. Sometimes I look around to see him but it never happens.
“I keep dreaming about how he was beaten and kicked and dragged into the water. The two drag marks were there for a very long time after the day,” she said.
Mrs Krupa cannot look at people when they are smiling and laughing.
“I can’t look at fathers pushing their kids around town as my son can’t do that now. I can’t listen to music and I don’t enjoy life anymore,” she said.
The court heard that her daughter moved out of her home a few days after “everything happened” as she “could not stand living there as everything reminded” her of Patryk.
All her days now consist of going to the cemetery.
“I cannot forget my son’s massacred face when I close my eyes. I keep seeing him in the morgue in a black bag. I still can’t forget how I felt mentally and physically in the morgue.
“I dream of not being able to hold him in my arms again,” she said.
Seán Gillane, defending Sycheulec, told the court his client is a Polish national with limited English and is a parent of a two-year-old child.
Conor Devally, defending Gruchacz, said his client is 35 years of age and “has a mixed history”, as much of his education was spent in young offenders units.
Handing down sentence, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that this was a “shocking and violent event”.
He thanked Mrs Krupa for her “very moving victim impact statement”.
The judge said it is a “great tragedy for a parent to lose a child” and her victim impact statement captures “the unnatural position of a parent put in that position”.
Before handing down sentence, the judge told the court that no explanation into the background of what caused this to happen to Mr Krupa had been forthcoming.
He said the only mitigating factors on the part of the two accused was their co-operation with the investigation, but there was “very few mitigating factors beyond that”.
Mr Justice Hunt then gave the men mandatory life sentences and backdated them to the respective dates from when each of them went into custody.
He then imposed a seven- year concurrent sentence on Sychulec for false imprisonment as well as a five-year concurrent sentence on Gruchacz for false imprisonment.