Longford murder trial hears accused stabbed victim three times
A Latvian father-of-one who admits stabbing a Polish man to death told gardai the deceased had smashed his apartment windows on Halloween night and he was going to "sort this out", a trial at the Central Criminal Court heard today (Friday, February 9).
Rihards Lavickis (25) of Annaly Court, Longford has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Akadiusz 'Arek' Czajkowski (31) at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Townspark in Longford on November 1, 2016.
Opening the trial today, Patrick McGrath SC for the prosecution told the jury of six men and six women that the deceased, also known as 'Arek', was a Polish man who lived in Sweden for a time and then Northern Ireland where he had a partner and a number of children. He came to work in construction in the Longford area but was unemployed at the time of his death and had "quite a drink problem" in the years up to then.
The accused is Latvian and had been living in Ireland from about the age of 14. He lived with his partner and five-year-old son and was receiving State benefits at the time. On Halloween 2016, the evening before the stabbing, Mr Lavickis was with friends in the Longford area when a silver car pulled up and Mr Czajkowski got out. There was an interaction between the two men and Mr McGrath said there had been disputes and friction between them before.
The accused later went home and the next morning when he awoke his front windows had been smashed. He believed Mr Czajkowsi was responsible. When he spoke to gardai about the smashed windows he said he was going to "sort this out". Mr McGrath said: "It seems he believed Arek was responsible and went to look for him and he brought a knife."
He went to Mr Czajkowski's apartment but he wasn't there. Mr Lavickis then met a man in Longford Shopping Centre and he was in that man's car when he saw the deceased approaching at a street known as Rue Noyal Chatillon.
Mr McGrath said Mr Lavickis can be seen on CCTV footage and it looks as if he concealed himself as the deceased walked towards the shopping centre. As Mr Czajkowski crossed the road the accused can be seen coming from where he was concealed and running at the deceased, his arm lifted with what the prosecution says is a knife in his hand.
The fatal incident was not captured by CCTV but Mr McGrath said the accused stabbed Mr Czajkowski three times. Within a minute Mr Czajkowski can be seen collapsing inside the shopping centre and he died quickly.
Within a short period gardai went to Mr Lavickis' home and Mr McGrath said the jury will hear evidence from his partner about what he said when he went home and admissions he made in relation to the stabbing.
Gardai arrested Mr Lavickis and brought him to Longford Garda Station where he admitted to the stabbing and mentioned the incident the night before. He confirmed that the CCTV showed himself and Mr Czajkowski in the lead-up to the fatal stabbing.
Mr McGrath told the jury that to bring a murder verdict they must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused intended to kill or cause serious harm when he stabbed the deceased.
The jury was shown maps and photographs of the area where the stabbing occurred and heard from Garda Eugene Kelly who told Mr McGrath that he was in charge of the garda emergency line on the morning of November 1. At 8.58am he received a call from a man who gave Mr Lavickis' address and said his windows had been broken. At 11.50am a woman rang screaming and shouting for gardai to get to the same address.
Paramedic Ann Duffy told the court that she arrived at the scene of the stabbing at 11.55am and found Mr Czajkowski lying in the ground outside O'Hehir's Bakery. She saw two stab wounds, both to the left side and although he was conscious and breathing he was "very agitated".
She was told no air support was available so the decision was taken to bring him to Mullingar Accident & Emergency by ambulance and to meet an advanced paramedic team on the way. They met the advanced team at Edgeworthstown and arrived at the A&E at 12.50pm.
The trial will continue on Tuesday in front of Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh.
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