Court hears that four-year-old boy was 'deliberately starved' by mother and stepfather in case of 'incomprehensible cruelty'


An emaciated four-year-old boy died of a head injury after being subjected to a campaign of “incomprehensible” cruelty by his mother and stepfather, a court has heard.

Daniel Pelka, whose physical condition was likened by a doctor to that of a concentration camp victim, is alleged to have been deliberately starved over several months.

Jurors sitting at Birmingham Crown Court heard claims that the youngster was "imprisoned" in a bedroom, which had no door handles, and force-fed salt.

Daniel, whose mother and stepfather came to Britain from Poland in 2006, was pronounced dead in the early hours of March 3 after paramedics were called to his home in Coventry.

His mother, Magdelena Luczak, and her partner, Mariusz Krezolek, both deny murdering Daniel and causing or allowing his death in March 2012.

Opening the case against the couple at the start of what is expected to be an eight-week trial, prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC alleged that text messages provided compelling evidence of their guilt.

In one message to her partner in February last year, which was read to the jury, Daniel's mother is alleged to have said: "He's temporarily unconscious as I nearly drowned him. I am having some quiet time."

Krezolek is alleged to have told Daniel's mother in another message sent on October 7, 2011: "Lead or take him to the room and lock him there. You will have some peace and do wait for me."

Jurors heard that Krezolek was sent another message by Luczak which read: "We will deal with (Daniel) after school.

"He won't see grub at all."

During his opening speech, Mr Hankin said the prosecution submitted that Daniel, who was found to have suffered a subdural haematoma, was unconscious when a text message was sent from Luczak to Krezolek at 4.34pm on Friday March 2.

The message, translated from Polish, is alleged to have read: "He'll get over it by tomorrow.

"There is no point to stress ourselves out and to call an ambulance because that will cause proper problems."

Daniel, whose body was found to have 24 distinct areas of injury, was formally pronounced dead at hospital after a 999 call made by Krezolek at 3.07am on March 3.

A post-mortem examination found Daniel had "groups of injury" on his head, trunk and all four limbs, and discernible bruising to his right scalp.

Medical experts who took part in the post-mortem found that he had very little body fat and "markedly reduced" muscle bulk, Mr Hankin said.

Jurors were also told that an expert in gastroenterology, who will give evidence to the trial, judged that the schoolboy was "extremely emaciated" and had a body mass index so low that it could not be plotted on a chart.

Another witness who will testify at the trial believed that one had to look to areas of the developing world, particularly Gambia, for cases of comparable gravity, Mr Hankin added.

The Crown alleges the boy's emaciation was the consequence of an inadequate food intake and that no evidence of a physical disorder was found.

One health professional involved in caring for Daniel when he was taken to Coventry's University Hospital was "horrified" by what she saw, the court heard.

The court was told that the doctor, who had 19 years of medical experience, said Daniel's body resembled pictures she had seen in text books, and that lay people would understand by bringing to mind images of children starved in concentration camps during the Second World War.

Another expert is to tell the court that the level of malnutrition could have happened in a minimum of three months, but most likely occurred over a period of between seven and nine months.

Details of internet searches on a computer found in the bedroom shared by Luczak and Krezolek were also presented to the jury.

The internet history showed that searches for "When a child stops responding" and "care, patient in coma" were conducted on the morning of March 2.

Mr Hankin told the jury: "Some time between the evening of Thursday March 1 and the late morning on Friday March 2, it is the prosecution case that Daniel was subjected to a violent assault in his own home by one or the other, or both, of the defendants.

"Irrespective of who landed the fatal blow, each bears responsibility for his murder.

"This act of cruelty and violence was not an isolated incident. Leading up to his death, he was subjected to a campaign of incomprehensible and escalating cruelty."

Krezolek, 33, and Luczak, 27, have both admitted a charge of child cruelty but deny causing Daniel's death.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.


ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform