Catherine Wells-Burr: Polish Trio On Trial

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Catherine Wells-Burr: Police Trio On Trial

A cheating Polish factory worker hatched a plot to kill his British girlfriend with his jealous secret lover and her uncle, a court has heard.

Rafal Nowak is accused of killing Catherine Wells-Burr, 23, as she slept at the couple's new home in Chard, Somerset, last September.

His former partner Anna Lagwinowicz and her uncle Tadevsz Dmytryszyn allegedly dumped the business analyst's body at a roadside and set fire to it.

Bristol Crown Court was told that the trio created a fake trail of text messages with a "mystery man" to imply that Miss Wells-Burr was having an affair with an unidentified man who had killed her.

But the trial was told police quickly identified clues pointing to Nowak, the "bitter" and "jealous" Lagwinowicz and her doting uncle.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Richard Smith QC said Miss Wells-Burr had met Nowak at Numatic International, the company known for Henry vacuum cleaners which is based in Chard.

The court was told that Nowak - who had already left a wife and child in Poland after moving to the UK in 2008 - broke off his relationship with Lagwinowicz and got together with the recent graduate.

"Catherine Wells-Burr had a caring and close family, who loved and supported her. She thought that, in the defendant Nowak, she had a caring partner to share the new house with, to share potentially that bright future with. How very sadly wrong she was," Mr Smith said.

He told the jury that the trio had embarked on a course of "heartless, careful planning", before killing Miss Wells-Burr in the early hours of September 12.

By this time, Nowak had rekindled his relationship with Lagwinowicz and was seeing her "behind Catherine's back", the court heard.

"They planned the murder together with the input and help of Lagwinowicz's uncle. By killing Catherine in those early hours, they knew they would secure a life insurance policy as a result, the home for Nowak - Catherine would be removed from their lives," Mr Smith said.

He described how Lagwinowicz was "bitterly spiteful" when she and Nowak split up. "She never got over it," he said. "She never got over the loss of her Polish boyfriend to his English girlfriend. She wanted him back.

"It seems she embarked on a path of jealousy, vindictiveness. She tried to unsettle the relationship with the new English girlfriend. Texts were sent, things were said - all designed, it seemed, to drive a wedge between Nowak and Catherine.

"It is that simmering discontent, a fatal attraction, that never disappeared. It is a theme of this case."

The QC said Miss Wells-Burr was killed by Nowak in her bed, possibly by suffocation, so as to leave no trace.

"Catherine's body was then taken to a roadside location in Chard by Lagwinowicz and Dmytryszyn," he said. "There, at the roadside, Catherine's body was burned in her own car using petrol to ignite the flames.

"The car was deemed to be set alight at 6am on that Wednesday, by which time those three knew that Nowak would have time to leave the house, clock in at the local factory where he worked, and as the flames engulfed the car, he would be able to say 'Not me, I'm here at work'."

Polish nationals Nowak, from Chard, Lagwinowicz, from Taunton, and Dmytryszyn, also from Taunton, all deny murder.

The trial continues ...

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