Starved, beaten, poisoned: The tragic death of Daniel Pelka at hands of mother and partner

Mother and her partner ‘took relish’ in reign of torture that led to murder of four-year-old boy

A couple who battered the woman’s four-year-old son and left him to die in a locked, unheated box room have been convicted of murder.

The woman and her partner starved Daniel Pelka for months and force-fed him salt during a campaign of physical abuse. A serious case review will now try to establish why a number of opportunities to save the boy’s life were missed by authorities, who were convinced by his killers that he was suffering from a rare eating disorder.

Fourteen months before he died in March last year, Daniel became the focus of a police inquiry after his arm was broken. But the file was closed when his killers convinced officers that he hurt himself when he jumped from a sofa at their home in Coventry.

Just weeks before his death, the boy was sent to school with black eyes and was described as a “bag of bones”. When he was at home, he was punished with arduous exercises and locked in a tiny room with no food or sanitation.

The couple claimed Daniel had an eating disorder The couple claimed Daniel had an eating disorder

 

Magdelena Luczak, 27, and former soldier Mariusz Krezolek, 34, who were from Poland, showed no emotion after they were found guilty of murder at Birmingham Crown Court.

The couple, who were heavy drinkers and abused drugs, had blamed each other for the boy’s death but text messages revealed they worked as a team to inflict the injuries. The messages showed they “took relish” in the abuse.

The pair carried out searches on their computer which suggested Daniel was beaten, almost drowned and poisoned with salt.

The court heard that he was a healthy boy when he started school in September 2011 but was subjected to suffering that left him resembling a concentration camp victim by the time he died seven months later.

Daniel, who weighed less than 11kgs and was in a state of “skeletal emaciation” when he died, had been seen by a paediatrician three weeks before he was found dead who reported that he was underweight but not “wasted”.

In evidence, the couple admitted they had gone to sleep on both nights that Daniel lay dying in the box room, and even had sex after his death.

In a statement released by police, Eryk Pelka, Daniel’s biological father, said: “It’s a great tragedy that such a little angel had to leave this world. I hope that those responsible will be punished severely.”

The couple will be sentenced on Friday.

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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss