Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Father Damian Rzeszowski 'killed six over fears marriage was falling apart'

Court hears man who stabbed family after barbecue claims he remembers nothing
  • @kevinJrawlinson

A man killed his wife and two young children, along with three other people, in a knife attack because he could not handle the thought of his marriage breaking down, a court has heard.

Damian Rzeszowski, 31, is accused of murdering his wife Izabela Rzeszowska, 30, their daughter Kinga, five, and two-year-old son Kacper, in St Helier, Jersey, on 14 August last year. He also stands accused of the murders of Izabela's 56-year-old father Marek Garstka, her friend Marta De La Haye, 34, and Mrs De La Haye's five-year-old daughter Julia.

The court heard that his behaviour changed after his wife admitted she had been unfaithful. Mr Rzeszowski was said to have reacted by drinking and having a one-night stand, before taking an overdose of pills on 19 July.

The prosecutor, Solicitor General Howard Sharp, told the presiding judge Sir Michael Birt and two jurats – similar to magistrates in mainland UK – that the defendant's marriage "was under great strain" by summer 2011. In an attempt to save their marriage, the couple decided to travel to Poland to visit their families. "However, the problems remained and the defendant visited a prostitute in Poland," Mr Sharp said.

The knife attack took place in the couple's home in Victoria Crescent, St Helier, on the day they returned from their holiday.

The court heard that after the family returned from their holiday, Mrs Rzeszowska and her father left the flat to fetch Mrs De La Haye and her daughter so they could all have a barbecue.When they returned, they found that Mr Rzeszowski had gone out and left the children by themselves, although Mr Sharp said the defendant could not recall why he left or how long he was away. "When he got back, Marta and her daughter had arrived," Mr Sharp said.

"His wife remonstrated with him about leaving two young children on their own, and from this point on he says he had an apparent blackout."

Mr Sharp said the argument "probably" happened at 1pm or shortly thereafter and the killings started at around 2.45pm. "We know for sure that 999 calls were made at 2.58pm and 3pm when residents saw the defendant on the street with a knife, which happened at the very end [of the attack]," he said.

This lapse in time, Mr Sharp said, showed that the attacks had not been the product of a momentary loss of control. He added: "It's one thing for the defendant to say he lost his temper in the heat of the moment, it is quite another to say he had an hour and three-quarters to think about it."

Mr Rzeszowski pleaded guilty to manslaughter through diminished responsibility in April, but the manslaughter pleas were not accepted by the Crown, which argues that the defendant was not suffering an "abnormality of the mind" when the attacks took place. He has been remanded in Broadmoor Hospital since his arrest.

The trial continues.