A Dublin man has been given a life sentence for murder and his two co-accused have been jailed for manslaughter of a 27-year-old ‘model worker’ they killed on his way to work.
Martin Morgan (aged 21) of Tonlegee Road, Raheny; his cousin, Edward Byrne, (aged 21) of Cabra Park, Cabra, Dublin; and Stephen Byrne (aged 18) of St Donagh’s Road, Donaghmede, Dublin attacked Lukasz Rzeszutko ‘for a buzz’.
The three men kicked and beat the Polish man to death on October 2, 2010 as he arrived at Kish Fish in the Newtown Industrial Estate in Coolock, where he worked with his two brothers.
All three had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter. However, a jury found Morgan guilty of murder earlier this month, after hearing that he had jumped and stamped on the victim’s head.
The DPP accepted the pleas of the other two men and Mr Justice Barry White today jailed Edward Byrne for 12 years. He imposed nine years on Stephen Byrne, suspending the final three years.
The Central Criminal Court had heard that Mr Rzeszutko’s boss and colleague did not recognise him when they found him unconscious outside Kish Fish that morning. He had brain tissue protruding from his nose and he died in hospital two days later of severe brain damage.
Mr Justice White told all three to stand in court today as he described their attack on him as mindless and savage. He also said that Mr Rzeszutko was not a single victim, but he was a son and brother.
“Your actions have not only cost Mr Rzeszutko his life but you’ve caused anguish and pain to his family,” he said.
He imposed the mandatory life sentence on Morgan, who he heard had ‘danced’ on the victim’s head. Morgan denied all involvement in the killing but the victim’s blood was found on his runners in a pattern consistent with stamping or kicking the victim’s head.
Mr Justice White said that Stephen Byrne and Edward Byrne were fortunate to have had their pleas to manslaughter accepted by the DPP.
“I’m satisfied the attack was purely gratuitous,” he said, quoting Stephen Byrne’s assertion to the Gardaí that: “We just done it for a buzz.”
He said that he considered their offence to be far more serious than the DPP did.
“Random attacks on innocent victims cannot be tolerated,” he said. “Society must be protected. People must be free to walk the streets at any time.”
He said that if he thought a life sentence would stand the test of the Court of Criminal Appeal, he would have no hesitation in imposing it. However, he noted that he must impose a finite sentence.
He said he instead considered the appropriate sentence for such a killing to be 15 years in prison.
Mr Justice White said he was appalled, as any right-minded citizen would be, at the callous nature of the behaviour of all three afterwards. He was referring to their leaving the victim for dead before going to a local supermarket for snacks, something that was caught on CCTV.
“Edward Byrne was on bail at the time, a factor I find aggravating,” he said, noting his considerable criminal record of 55 previous convictions.
He said the sole mitigating factors he could find for him were his plea of guilty and his remorse.
He imposed a 12-year sentence on him. He pointed out that he had just begun a three-year sentence for another crime, meaning he would really serve only an extra nine years for Mr Rzeszutko’s killing.
The judge noted that Stephen Byrne had no previous convictions, had also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and had expressed remorse. He said that a psychological report had described him as having limited cognitive ability and that his thinking abilities were exceeded by 96% of his peers.
He said that Stephen Byrne had a greater involvement than Edward Byrne, being the first to approach Mr Rzeszutko.
“Balancing his greater involvement but better record, I should not differentiate. It seems to me nine years is appropriate,” he said.
However, he said to give him hope, he would suspend the final three years of the sentence.
Members of the killers’ families broke down in tears as their sentences were read out and they were led away to begin them.
No member of the victim’s family was in court to see his killers jailed. However a previous court hearing heard a statement from his mother, Grazyna Rzeszutko, who said her life would never be the same.
“The pain never gets easier. A piece of me will be missing the rest of my entire life,” she said.
“Lukasz came to Ireland to improve his life and fulfil his dreams,” she continued. “I can’t understand what kind of human being Morgan must be to take his life away in such a cruel way.”