A father who killed his two-year-old son in a “truly evil” murder has been jailed for life and ordered to spend a minimum of 23 years behind bars.
Lukasz Czapla, 41, was unanimously found guilty of the killing of Julius Czapla at an address in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, in November 2020.
After he discovered the youngster’s mother was in a new relationship, Czapla shot his son in the head with a BB gun, stabbed him with a skewer-like instrument and smothered him with a pillow.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard it was in an act of “revenge and jealousy” to “get back” at his former partner.
Following the verdict, Patrycja Szczesniak, Julius’ mother, released at statement through Police Scotland saying her little boy had trusted his father “completely”.
She said: “Despite the break-up with Julius’s dad, I wanted him to have contact with our son.
“I never stopped him seeing Julius.
“Julek (Julius) loved him like every child loves their dad. He trusted him, he trusted him completely.
“Julius 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.”
The former IT technician offered to plead guilty to culpable homicide, claiming diminished responsibility, but prosecutors declined his plea and pursued a murder conviction.
The two-week hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh ended with a jury unanimously finding Czapla guilty of murder.
Immediately after the jury delivered its verdict, judge Lord Beckett sentenced Czapla to life in prison, with a minimum of 23 years before he can be considered for parole.
Addressing Czapla, Lord Beckett said: “As a result of your actions, your son will never grow up.”
He described the murder as “truly evil, causing a defenceless child considerable distress”.
The court had heard Czapla had been drinking alcohol and had taken prescribed anti-depressants the night he killed his son.
However, Lord Beckett told him: “There is no excuse you were filled with drink and drugs.
“You acted out of spite to kill this child to get back at his mother.”
Czapla, who showed no reaction when the verdict was called, was led away in handcuffs.
Lord Beckett offered members of the jury counselling services, adding: “I suspect this case exceeds the awfulness of cases that we hear.
“There can be nothing in your lives that will prepare you for this experience, I imagine it’s taken quite a toll for you to hear about such terrible violence inflicted on such a defenceless child for no reason, and bad reasons.”
He referred to forensic consultant psychiatrist Dr Alexander Quinn’s comments during the trial in which he described the events as “one of the most difficult and most harrowing of cases.”
Giving evidence during the trial, Czapla claimed that he killed his son because he had decided to end his own life and could not face leaving Julius behind without a father – like he had been.
After shooting him in the head with the air gun, Czapla realised the toddler was still alive but paralysed, and proceeded to stab and smother him.
He previously told the court: “I did not want him to suffer at all, that was not my intention.
“I had this stupid idea from the TV that people just die instantly.”
Alan Cameron, prosecuting, told the jury that Czapla’s fury and jealousy towards Ms Szczesniak is what motivated him to kill Julius.
He referred to text messages sent on the night of the murder where Czapla asked about her sex life and new partner, which she did not respond to.
Mr Cameron said: “What really set him off that night… was her refusal to answer questions about her new partner and their sex life – not about her son at all.”
He added: “He was furious with his ex-partner… in a fit of anger and spite he killed his son to hurt his former partner.”
Czapla had previously pleaded guilty to nine other charges on the indictment, including dangerous driving offences and possession of an air gun.
Sentences for each of these will run concurrently with his life sentence, the court heard.