A judge told a couple who murdered a four-year-old boy after inflicting months of cruelty and starvation on him that they would serve a minimum of 30 years in prison. They had concocted detailed lies to try to avoid responsibility for their horrific crime.
Magdelena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34, showed no emotion as they were told they had carried out “unimaginable acts of cruelty and brutality” and had shown callous disregard for the distress of the little boy who was starved, force-fed salt and severely punished.
Mrs Justice Cox said that Daniel Pelka had been starved so badly that his condition on his death, weighing just 11kg, was unprecedented; and yet the couple had shown no sign of remorse.
Luczak, the boy’s mother, and her partner Krezolek were both found guilty of murder on Wednesday after a nine-week trial.
After telling social services and health workers that Daniel’s emaciated appearance was caused by an eating disorder, they had blamed each other for his treatment at the trial.
“Time and again, knowing exactly what you were doing to him, both of you concealed your conduct from the authorities by a series of deliberate and elaborate lies, designed to put them off the scent and to prevent them from discovering Daniel’s true plight,” the judge told the couple at Birmingham Crown Court. “Your expressions of regret and sorrow made now ring hollow in the circumstances of this case.”
Daniel appeared to be a healthy boy when he started school in September 2011 but his condition rapidly worsened over the following weeks, until teachers saw him searching through dustbins for sustenance and stealing food from other pupils.
The judge said the reasons behind the escalation of the brutality were “unfathomable”, with the child suffering from hunger and hopelessness up until the moment that he died. “The scale of his suffering was truly horrific,” the judge said.
After his last day at school, Daniel was beaten by Krezolek and suffered a fatal head injury but the couple failed to call for any help despite conducting online searches into the care of a patient in a coma. Then they slept. The judge said that the former soldier was also responsible for breaking the boy’s arm 14 months before he died.
The judge told the pair: “You are in breach of what is probably the most important position of trust, as the parents of a small child who was entitled to protection, love and care.”
A serious case review is expected to report back in six weeks on the lessons learned from the case after more than seven attempts to identify and stop the abuse were missed by a range of professionals. Geoffrey Robinson, the MP for Coventry North West, has said Daniel was “badly let down” not just by “an evil stepfather and an indifferent and selfish mother” but also by his school, health professionals and social services.
He has called for Colin Green, Coventry’s director of children’s services, to resign immediately, saying: “He takes with him the indelible stain of Daniel’s cruel death, which his department had failed to prevent.”
Mr Green was due to step down in September, following an assessment by Ofsted earlier in the year that ranked the city’s primary schools as the worst in the country.