Two-year-old covered in blood when found by mother, murder trial told

·4-min read
The trial is taking place at the HIgh Court in Edinburgh (PA) (PA Archive)
The trial is taking place at the HIgh Court in Edinburgh (PA) (PA Archive)

The mother of a toddler allegedly murdered by his father found her son covered in blood and blue in the face, a court has been told.

Lukasz Czapla is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh accused of murdering his son Julius at a property in Muirhouse in the city on November 20 or 21, 2020.

The 15-strong jury on Thursday heard the statement Patrycja Szczesniak gave to police about the moment she found her son dead.

She said when she entered Julius’s bedroom, he was covered in blood and his face was blue.

“I knew he was dead,” she added.

Earlier, Czapla’s neighbour Tracy Stirling told the court she, Ms Szczesniak and fellow neighbour Joanne Gorrie had been at the door of the defendant’s home moments before the boy was found dead.

Ms Stirling said that when the door was opened, Czapla “had blood around his nose”.

She added: “I could smell alcohol. I don’t know if he was maybe drunk. His eyes looked like they were rolling a bit.”

Ms Stirling said that after Ms Szczesniak and Czapla had a discussion in their native Polish, the door was pushed shut before it was reopened moments later.

She comes out saying 'he’s killed my baby, he’s killed my baby'

Tracy Stirling, trial witness

The witness told the court: “Patrycja was at the door asking me to come in. I didn’t go right in, just put my foot in the door so Lukasz couldn’t shut the door again.

“She goes walking to the bottom of the hall, turns right, and lets out a big scream like she knew there was something wrong.

“Then next thing she comes out saying ‘he’s killed my baby, he’s killed my baby’.”

Czapla denies murder and his QC, Iain McSporran, called for a special defence which stated his client was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of his son’s death.

The court has been shown photographs of inside the house, with the bath full of water and a knife on the corner. Another knife was on the closed toilet seat lid, and a black handgun was on the floor.

As a joint minute detailing Julius’s injuries was read out to court by Alan Cameron, prosecuting, Czapla, 41, sat in the dock with his head in his hands.

The court was told that at 9.32am on November 21, 2020, emergency services received several calls about the incident, and at 9.45am paramedics declared the boy dead.

Pathologists at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital found wounds inflicted by an air gun, with steel ball bearings recovered from his body.

They also found a 9cm stab wound to his body, alongside a number of other injuries. They said it was not possible to work out in which order the injuries were inflicted.

The court heard Ms Szczesniak told officers she and Czapla had split amicably, and she later started a new relationship with a man she met online.

The hairdresser said: “After he found out I met (her new partner), I still tried to keep on good form with Lukasz, but quite regularly make comments about life not being worth it and things like that.”

The court heard he would try to get information on her new partner in messages exchanged between the two.

He asked her about her sex life in graphic terms, which she did not reply to.

“I felt they were very rude and I didn’t see any need to engage in what appeared a stupid conversation,” she said.

The court heard Czapla had lost his father at a young age and had no brothers or sisters.

In the early hours of November 21, the court was told, Ms Szczesniak got a text from Czapla.

She said of the message: “He doesn’t want Julius to have same life he did. That he was going to leave and take Julius with him.”

The court heard that later on November 21, officers pulled over Czapla’s Lexus on the A90.

Pc John Morgan said Czapla appeared “lucid” and was “slightly unsteady on his feet”, with blood around his mouth and on his T-shirt.

Pc Anthony Keating told the court Czapla “appeared under the influence of either drugs or alcohol” and had “glazed” eyes.

He told the jury the accused provided a positive test for alcohol and, at the police station, provided a reading of 33mg in 100ml of blood.

The court heard Czapla’s defence argues the reading would not “represent someone who is very drunk”, which Pc Keating agreed with.

Jurors were told there were two boxes of antidepressant tablets found in the kitchen, with empty blister packs found inside the property.

Detective Constable Joanne Robertson told jurors Czapla had “taken them all”. She added he said he did it “because he didn’t want to be here”.

Mr McSporran said his client actually said he had taken the whole box and contested her telling the court he appeared “nonchalant”.

Czapla offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide but it was not accepted by the Crown.

He faces nine other charges against him, including drink-driving, drug possession, and having an air weapon. He denies all charges.

The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.

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