A 39-year-old man has admitted killing his housemate, following a row over a New Year’s Eve poker game at their Cavan home. He stabbed him with a knife he used in his job on the ‘kill floor’ in a meat plant.
Tomasz Paszkiewicz is charged with murdering fellow Polish man Marek Swider (40) at their home on Dublin Street, Ballyjamesduff on January 1, 2018. He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, and went on trial before the Central Criminal Court today.
His barrister, Ken Fogarty SC, made a series of admissions on his behalf.
These included that the accused had invited the deceased outside following a row that erupted while the two were playing poker. When outside, he stabbed the deceased with a knife issued to him for his work on the ‘kill floor’ at Liffey Meats in the town.
Sean Guerin SC then outlined the prosecution’s case for the jury.
He said that both men had been working in this country for many years, and were sharing accommodation with another Polish man and a Latvian man.
They were home for most of New Year’s Eve, and the accused and deceased were drinking and playing cards together that evening.
“They were playing cards for money,” he said, explaining that the stakes on the table were approaching €500.
“Mr Paszkiewicz’s luck was against him that day,” he said. “Some form of dispute occurred between them.”
A witness would say that the accused had tried to recover the money he had lost, not by force, but had gone to take it.
“It does seem that Mr Paszkiewicz armed himself with a knife he had for work,” he continued, explaining that this knife had been brought home and used as a kitchen knife.
“The card game appears to have been in the sitting room,” he noted. “The prosecution case will be that he went into the kitchen to get the knife.”
He said that the accused had invited Mr Swider outside, where he’d stabbed him not once, but twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen.
“He never really stood a chance of recovering from the injuries,” he added.
He told the jury that the accused had dropped the knife at the scene and left straight away, walking to the neighbouring town of Virginia, where he got a bus to Dublin. He then spent days criss-crossing the country on buses before handing himself into gardai in Cork.
“The thing the prosecution has to prove is the state of mind of Mr Paszkiewicz when he did the thing that caused the death,” explained Mr Guerin. “What the prosecution has to prove is that he intended to kill or cause him serious injury.”
He said that it was for the jury to assess ‘the way he armed himself with the knife’ and what he said to the deceased, and whether such evidence showed what he’d intended.
The jury later heard from a Czech friend of the deceased, who was visiting that evening.
Zdenek Hebron was sitting with his back to the card game, but he told Mr Guerin that the deceased had won all the money.
“Then, Mr Paszkiewicz grabbed all the money and put them into his pocket and Marek said: ‘Wait, that’s all my money. I won them’,” he testified.
He said the accused then told the deceased to follow him outside. They both left the living room and nobody returned until about five minutes later, when the deceased came back in ‘holding his tummy’.
“He said: ‘That stupid guy stabbed me. Call ambulance’,” recalled the witness.
Under cross examination by Mr Fogarty, he said that there had been ‘a friendly atmosphere’ in the house until the incident, and that there had never previously been a cross word between the two men. He had already described them as ‘good friends’.
The trial continues before Ms Justice Tara Burns and a jury of seven men and five women.