Alarming last chat Sheffield cafe owner had with friend before he was murdered by sadistic women

Stephen Mark Koszyczarski
Stephen Mark Koszyczarski -Credit:South Yorkshire Police

One of the last people to speak to Stephen Koszyczarski hours before he was tragically murdered has said he “didn’t look well” and “wasn’t himself”.

Stephen was robbed and brutally beaten by neighbours who lived in his flat block in Fraser Drive, Sheffield. Zoe Rider and Nicola Lethbridge tortured Stephen and filmed some of the attack. They were found guilty of robbery and murder at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday (May 16).

Stephen, 60, visited Moor News, owned by his friend Donna Moor, every day when he was in town. The newsagents, which also offers hot food and drinks as well as outdoor seating, is located at the bottom of The Moor in Sheffield City Centre.

Read more: Sadistic cold-blooded killers unmasked: Women hellbent on inflicting pain who tortured and beat Sheffield man to death pictured for first time

Donna, who has known Stephen for 30 years, was one of the last people to speak to Stephen on the day he was murdered. She had been away in Belfast visiting family and it was the first time she’d spoken to Stephen in a couple of weeks.

When Donna, 64, returned from Ireland on Monday (August 7) her colleague had informed her that Stephen had set-up a tab to pay for his food and drink that week - something which was “unusual” for him to do. The colleague also mentioned to her that Steven had expressed that he was having “trouble” with his neighbours. “It was strange, but I thought I would let him tell me myself,” Donna explained.

“On that day, (August 9), all of his friends had gone off shopping so I thought I would go over and have a coffee with him. I said ‘you don’t look well Stephen, what’s the matter with you?’”

He told Donna that he wasn’t getting any sleep and that he was “having trouble” with his neighbours. She advised him not to open his door if they started disturbing him again that night. “Then he began talking about the fact that he’d set up the tab and he said he’d had a lot of bills - but I didn’t think that was true,” she said.

“Stephen had never been short of money before. That day, he had none at all so after some persuading, I lent him £55.”

Donna, who has owned the cafe for 12 years, explained that Stephen would often go there to meet friends and stay with her until closing time. She said: “The last time I saw Stephen was when I was round the back of my shop locking up at 6pm. I saw him waiting for his bus and I ran to get mine and I told him ‘see you tomorrow’.”

Moor News, Sheffield
Donna Moor, who owns Moor News, was one of the last people to speak to Stephen Koszyczarski before he was brutally murdered -Credit:Yasmin Wakefield

The next day (August 10), Donna received a call from one of his neighbours, informing her that they’d seen Stephen being taken away in the back of an ambulance. “I thought it might have been his heart again because he’d recently had open heart surgery - but the neighbour told me that it looked like he could have been beaten”.

Donna rang the hospital and explained that Stephen, who had been fostered from a young age, didn’t have any other family. She was allowed to visit him but he later died of his injuries on August 11.

Donna was told that Stephen had been beaten, but didn’t learn of how horrific Stephen’s death was until the evidence came to light in court. “Hearing what happened was heart-breaking. It’s upset me so much. I just couldn’t believe it. It made me feel ill.

“I saw his injuries in the hospital and I couldn’t believe that two women were capable of that. It was horrendous.”

[L-R] Zoe Rider and Nicola Lethbridge have been found guilty of robbery and murder
[L-R] Zoe Rider and Nicola Lethbridge have been found guilty of robbery and murder -Credit:South Yorkshire Police

Donna believes that the women responsible for robbing and murdering Stephen are the same neighbours who had been “tormenting” him in the weeks leading up to his death. She explained: “One of them lived opposite. Personally, I think from the day they moved in they tortured him - banging about and keeping him awake.”

“I think they might have been taking money from him. In the 30 years I’d known Stephen he’d never been short of money - ever.

“I think that maybe what happened on the night he was murdered is that he didn’t have any money to give them and that’s why they robbed and hurt him. But nobody will ever know what really happened, or how long it had been going on for.”

She described Stephen as a “very quiet, private man”. She continued: “It’s dreadful - no man deserves that but Stephen was a vulnerable man, he never hurt anybody - he was friends with everybody. To get over open heart surgery and a stroke and then for that to happen, it’s dreadful.”

Stephen visited Moor News, owned by his friend of 30 years, Donna Moor, almost every day -Credit:Yasmin Wakefield
Stephen visited Moor News, owned by his friend of 30 years, Donna Moor, almost every day -Credit:Yasmin Wakefield

On Thursday, jurors took just two hours and 35 minutes to find Zoe Rider, 36, and Nicola Lethbridge, 45, both of Fraser Drive, guilty of the robbery and murder of Stephen Koszyczarski on August 9 last year. The monstrous duo tortured Stephen and filmed some of the attack.

During the trial at Sheffield Crown Court, jurors watched the footage which featured the pair taunting Stephen while they robbed and attacked him. Part of the footage was played during the opening in April, and in it, they could be heard hurling sickening abuse at defenceless Stephen.

Stephen was captured on CCTV footage on his way home, but at 11.20pm that night, he pressed a button on a lanyard that activated an alarm used for assistance for those with health issues. Mr O-Byrne said: "He spoke to an operator and asked for assistance. He told them he had been attacked and was bleeding."

Stephen was taken to hospital but died on August 11. A post-mortem examination revealed that Stephen had died of what the pathologist described as “a sustained and blunt-force physical assault and haemorrhage of the skull".

Donna added: “Stephen’s at peace, and I hope they rot for the rest of their lives. I hope they get a very long sentence - I don’t think they should ever be allowed out.”

Lethbridge and Rider will be sentenced on June 5.

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