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

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

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.

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

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own