May 2022

Father who killed two-year-old son guilty of murder

A man who shot, stabbed and smothered his young son to death to spite his ex-partner after she started a new relationship has been sentenced to life

Lukasz Czapla, 41, killed two-year-old Juliusz after splitting up with the boy’s mother.

Czapla was given a life sentence and the judge said he would serve at least 23 years before being eligible to apply for parole.

Czapla, who showed no reaction when the verdict was called, was led away in handcuffs.

He had denied murdering the toddler in his home in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, in November 2020.

Czapla had offered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh but it was rejected by the Crown.

A jury heard that Juliusz was killed by Czapla “in a fit of anger and spite” to “get back at and hurt his former partner” Patrycja Szczesniak.

The couple had been in a relationship until June 2020.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Alexander Quinn told the court he believed that Mr Czapla’s actions were a “narcissistic and entitled” act.

Prosecutor Alan Cameron said the evidence before the jury showed Czapla was motivated by anger and jealousy over Ms Szczesniak’s new relationship.

He told jurors that on the night Juliusz died, Czapla sent text messages to Ms Szczesniak asking her about her new partner and her sex life.

She did not answer the questions.

Czapla then decided to shoot Julius three times in the head with a gas-powered air pistol.

Three ball bearings were later recovered from his head.

He then stabbed the toddler with a metal skewer before smothering him with a pillow leaving Juliusz lying lifeless in his house.

The court heard how Ms Szczesniak discovered her son’s remains the following day.

Czapla claimed he suffered from poor mental health at the time he killed Juliusz and it was so bad that it affected his actions, causing him to act out of character.

Jurors took three hours to conclude that Czapla was guilty of murder.

Passing sentence, judge Lord Beckett said that Czapla’s use of drink and drugs provided him with “no excuse” for what he did to Julius.

He said: “Your son will never grow up and his loving mother has lost him forever and will forever be haunted by the truly evil act that you did.

“You acted out of spite to punish his mother for leaving you and getting on with her life.”

The judge later told jurors that this case exceeded the awfulness of so many others.

In a statement released through Police Scotland after the conviction Patrycja Szczesniak, Julius’ Mother spoke of her devastation at her son’s death and described him as a “happy child”:

She said “I only wanted the best for you. If only I could only turn back time to have you in my arms again my child.

“Despite the breakup with Juliusz’s dad, I wanted him to have contact with our son. I never stopped him seeing Juliusz. Julek loved him like every child loves their dad. He trusted him, he trusted him completely.

“Juliusz was murdered only for revenge. His dad wanted me to suffer, he succeeded and achieved his goal, at the cost of my beloved little boy’s life.

“If only I knew what was going to happen. I would have never thought he could do this to my child.

“He was only two and a half.

“Every day I think about Juliusz. I can’t imagine what his little, helpless heart felt that night and I feel his fear and pain every day. He was part of me, part of my heart and soul.

“I wish I could hug him, play with him and watch him grow.

“Every day I ask myself why there is so much evil in this world, why the innocent have to suffer.

“He not only took Juliusz life but my life too.

“That day, the world stopped, not only for me but also for my mother and my sister.”