A 20-year-old Dublin man will be sentenced to life in prison for murdering a "model worker" as the victim walked to work in Dublin.
Polish man Lukasz Rzeszutko was found unconscious on October 2, 2010 outside his workplace in the Newtown Industrial Estate in Coolock. The 27-year-old died in hospital two days later of severe brain damage arising from ‘catastrophic’ head injuries.
Martin Morgan (aged 21) of Tonlegee Road, Raheny initially pleaded not guilty to his murder when he went on trial at the Central Criminal Court just over two weeks ago. However, he changed his plea on day three of the trial to not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The DPP did not accept this plea and the trial continued.
Two other Dublin men also took part in the "vicious and devastating attack" on Lukasz Rzeszutko.
Morgan’s cousin, Edward Byrne, (aged 21) of Cabra Park, Cabra had also pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Rzeszutko and went on trial with Morgan. He too changed his plea three days into the trial. However his plea of guilty to manslaughter was accepted.
Stephen Byrne (aged 18) of St Donagh’s Road, Donaghmede was also listed for trial on the murder charge but entered his plea of guilty to manslaughter before the jury was sworn in. His plea was also accepted and both Byrnes, who are unrelated, will be sentenced later this month.
The trial heard that Mr Rzeszutko, who was regarded as a model employee by his boss, was on his way to work in Kish Fish when the three men overpowered him by kicking and punching him.
Morgan also stamped on his head and this convinced the jury that his intention was to kill or cause serious injury to him.
The trial heard that Mr Rzeszutko’s two brothers also worked in the fish factory but he had been promoted to supervisor; he worked different shifts and used to walk to work alone. One of his brothers was phoning him when gardaí arrived.
A colleague, Michel Kamola, was leaving work at 4.30am that morning, the time at which Mr Rzeszutko was due to begin his shift. He saw a person lying in the middle of the junction opposite the factory and initially thought that he was dead.
Although he knew Mr Rzeszutko, he did not recognise the man on the ground due to the severity of his injuries and the amount of blood. The jury was shown a photograph he took of the unconscious victim on his phone.
Their boss, Tadhg O'Meara, who described Mr Rzezutko as a "model worker" said he did not recognise him either when he arrived immediately afterwards.
Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar said Mr Rzeszutko had multiple skull fractures with severe, traumatic brain injury and neurological injury to his cerebellum and spinal cord.
He said that the young man’s brain had become so swollen that brain substance extruded from his nostrils, an injury that was un-survivable.
He said his injuries were due to blunt-force trauma to the head and face, which he said could be caused by kicking, punching and stamping among other actions.
Two teenaged girls were with the three killers when they attacked Mr Rzeszutko and testified via live television link from outside the courtroom. One of them said she saw Morgan kick the victim’s head while standing on it.
“Stephen went over to ask for a smoke and then hit him. Marto went over then after him,” she said, referring to the defendant.
“They just started hitting him,” she continued. “Then he fell I think.”
“When he was on the ground, they were kicking him,” she said. “Marto was kicking him in the head… standing on it.”
She said that Edward Byrne ran over to try to stop them but that the deceased kicked him.
“So Eddie gave him a boot and walked off,” she said.
She said that Stephen Byrne then stopped kicking the man and returned to the group.
“Martin was still kicking him… in the head,” she said.
The other girl said that the victim was screaming and trying to run away from Morgan and Stephen Byrne but couldn’t as they were on either side of him.
“They were just blocking him,” she said.
She said that Morgan said afterwards that he didn’t think they’d killed him but admitted he’d jumped on his head.
She agreed that she was going out with Edward Byrne at the time and that he was on temporary release from prison.
The court heard that Morgan denied all involvement in the killing when arrested, despite surrounding incidents being caught on CCTV camera. These included the five young people going to Tesco for something to eat immediately after the attack.
However the victim’s blood was found on his runners and forensic experts told the court that it was in a pattern consistent with stamping or kicking the victim’s head.
The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating on Tuesday and had deliberated for over six hours by the time they reached a unanimous verdict today.
The court was then told that the victim’s family had been in court on the first two times the trial was listed to start but family members were unable to attend this time.
Mr Justice Barry White then adjourned imposing the mandatory life sentence until the end of the month, when a victim impact statement will be ready.
Morgan did not speak to his family or girlfriend before being led away to prison.