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Mother and partner guilty of murdering teenage son
A mother and her partner who tortured her teenage son over the course of several months have today been convicted of his murder.
Sebastian Kalinowski, who was 15, died from complications caused by untreated rib fractures following sadistic beatings inflicted by his step-father, martial artist and steroid user Andrzej Latoszewski, 38.
Sebastian’s mother, Agnieszka Kalinowska, 36, encouraged Latoszewski’s abuse, as well as taking part in the assaults herself at their home in Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
During evidence lasting almost five weeks, the jury at Leeds Crown Court was shown harrowing footage from CCTV cameras installed in the couple’s own house of Sebastian enduring horrendous treatment. The cameras had been put up, the prosecution said, partly to spy on Sebastian.
The teenager was repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on by bodybuilder Latoszewski, who practised Thai boxing. He was also beaten with weapons, including a spindle from a staircase and a bed slat. He was whipped with a flex cable.
Sebastian, who had moved to the UK from his native Poland in October 2020, was so conditioned to his own mistreatment, the prosecution said, that, on occasion, he would hand the weapons to his abusers before being attacked.
Sebastian’s mother took part in the assaults and in the constant verbal abuse Sebastian was subjected to and held Sebastian down while Latoszewski beat him.
Messages exchanged between her and Latoszewski showed them encouraging one another.
The teenager was shown being force fed and, in one incident, had a slipper shoved into his mouth with such force that he bled.
He was also made to perform humiliating exercise drills, including hundreds of push-ups and squats. He was seen being made to do chores and spending hours alone in his bedroom.
The prosecution said he was used as a “human punchbag” and his treatment was nothing short of “torture”.
Even the defendants’ own barristers acknowledged that the case was among the worst the courts had dealt with.
Before the jury retired to consider its verdict, Nicholas Lumley QC, for Latoszewski, said: “The treatment of Sebastian is truly shocking and it should not happen in a civilised, or any, society.”
Kalinowska’s QC Leonard Smith told the jury: “No matter how hardened we are to what happens in criminal courts up and down the country, this case really takes the biscuit.”
The court heard that Sebastian collapsed and lost consciousness after being assaulted on 13 August last year. But it was more than two hours before Latoszewski called an ambulance.
In the meantime the couple dressed Sebastian’s body. Latoszewski was seen putting water into Sebastian’s mouth, the prosecution said to make it look as if Sebastian had drowned.
He then removed the CCTV cameras.
When Sebastian was found, he had more than 80 injuries, including 23 untreated rib fractures. The injuries caused infection which ultimately proved fatal.
In hospital, medical staff were shocked as Latoszewski laughed and joked as he talked about Sebastian being “naughty” and that “the most he would ever get was a smacked a***”. He initially claimed Sebastian may have fallen from a tree.
Why did Sebastian’s parents attack him?
Latoszewski and Kalinowska were both charged with murder, along with manslaughter, causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, they initially denied all charges. After the trial had started Latoszewski pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while Kalinowska admitted child cruelty. But they continued to deny murder, saying they had never intended to cause Sebastian’s death.
The couple claimed they believed their abuse of Sebastian was “reasonable punishment” for alleged misbehaviour, including lying and playing truant from school.
During the trial Kalinowska, who claimed that she was controlled by Latoszewski and acted like his “puppet”, was asked what she was thinking when she hit her son.
She said: “That I would just hit him like a mother would a son.” She added: “I thought it was a usual punishment from a parent, that if a mum hits her son on the head, it’s a normal thing.”
Asked about one particular assault, Latoszewski said: “It was to do with the long period of him lying and we didn’t know what forms of punishment to use as the normal form of punishment failed to work and I just wanted to show him during school holidays something more aggressive so he would listen. It’s not an explanation but it’s all due to a lack of experience.”
On the day Sebastian died, Latoszewski said he carried out an assault after the boy took “too long to get dressed”.
The court heard there was no evidence to support the defendants’ claims that Sebastian misbehaved. In fact, he was described as a “model student” by North Huddersfield Trust School, where he was a pupil.
It took the jury less than three and a half hours to reach their unanimous guilty verdicts.
Addressing them after the verdicts, the judge Mrs Justice Lambert praised jurors’ commitment as “truly extraordinary”.
She said: “We have had to endure quite horrifying footage of Sebastian suffering great pain over a long period of time.”
Telling them that they had gone “beyond the call of duty”, she took the extraordinary step of formally discharging them from any future jury service.
Latoszewski and Kalinowska will be sentenced at a later date.