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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate