26 Sept 2022

Closing speeches in Longford murder trial: prosecution suggests that killing was deliberate

Longford Murder Trial: Day 8 - Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh will complete her charge to the jury on Tuesday

Closing speeches in Longford murder trial: prosecution suggests that killing was deliberate

Rihards Lavickis, Annaly Court, Longford (inset right) has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Akadiusz 'Arek' Czajkowski (inset left) at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Longford.

A prosecution barrister said there is "not a shred of truth" in a murder accused's claim that he was provoked by the deceased when he stabbed him to death.

Patrick McGrath SC delivered his closing speech in the trial of Rihards Lavickis (25) of Annaly Court, Longford who 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. His plea was not accepted by the State and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The accused, a confessed drug dealer, admits stabbing Mr Czajkowski.

Giving evidence on day seven of the trial, Mr Lavickis said the deceased came looking for repayment of a €300 drug debt and beat him with a knuckle duster several months before the fatal encounter.

The night before the stabbing, he said Mr Czajkowski and two other men chased him and the following morning Mr Lavickis awoke to find his front windows had been smashed. He believed Mr Czajkowski was responsible and went looking for him armed with a knife, saying he wanted to frighten the deceased. When he saw Mr Czajkowski, he said he had a "kind of a black out" and lost self control.

Mr McGrath said that under Irish law, if the accused was provoked his conviction would be reduced from murder to manslaughter. But counsel said the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was not provoked and that he is a "deliberate killer".

Mr McGrath explained that for provocation to be used as a defence, the accused man must have suffered a total and sudden loss of self control so that he was no longer master of his own mind. It is a crime of passion, he said, and the common examples, like the battered wife who finally snaps and kills her husband, are "miles away" from the evidence in this case.

He pointed out that there was a three-and-a-half hour gap between Mr Lavickis waking to find his windows broken and the fatal stabbing. In that time, he said the accused had time to call the gardai who arrived and took a report from him. He then took the knife, brought it to the deceased's apartment but couldn't find him, went back home, smoked cigarettes and thought about what he would do.

He went to meet a friend to do something in relation to drugs, sat in that man's car and saw the deceased. He opened his knife, got out of the car, went across the road where he concealed himself and waited for Mr Czajkowski before chasing after him with his knife held over his shoulder and stabbed him to death.

"Provocation does not arise in this case," he said adding that there is not a shred of truth to the claim that he had a blackout or lost control.

While Mr McGrath accepted there was background between the two men, he said this is not the type of case that the law allows to be reduced from murder to manslaughter. "This is a deliberate killing," he said, adding that the accused took the law into his own hands and made a conscious decision to go after Mr Czajkowski with a knife.

He described the claim that he had a blackout and lost control as a "contrivance and a fabrication" and a "nonsense wholly lacking in credibility". He asked the jury to consider why Mr Lavickis did not use those phrases in four interviews with gardai immediately after the stabbing. Instead, he told gardai that he was angry and that his blood was boiling, which would not amount to the legal defence of provocation.

John Shortt SC for the accused said the jury must decide if his client is a "cold blooded killer", as the prosecution has suggested, or a self confessed killer who, acting out of character, reacted to events in his life.

He said the jury had heard evidence that he was a popular man who was trying to maintain a normal family life in a three-bed apartment with his partner, her mother and sister and three children.

He questioned how the prosecution could have the temerity to call his client a liar when, from the outset, he had stood up and said: "I did this, I regret it. I was out of order but I'm telling you why I did it."

He said that taking the knife is not proof of intent. He suggested that had Mr Lavickis put on a disguise, thrown away the knife following the stabbing and gone on the run, he would be in a "very much more awkward position."

He pointed out that the hoodie is the "garment du jour" for those looking to cover their identity when carrying out a crime, but Mr Lavickis did not wear one. He made no effort to conceal who he was or to go on the run. That, he said, would be strong evidence of someone cold and calculating and guilty of murder, but in this case Mr Lavickis went home and waited for gardai to arrive. He did not try to hide the knife.

Counsel also reminded the jury that following the stabbing, Mr Lavickis was standing over Mr Czajkowski but rather than persist in stabbing him to make sure he had killed him, he stopped and walked away. This, he said, shows someone who suddenly regained reason as the enormity of what he had done came to him.

He also pointed to the evidence of State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy who said the knife entered the deceased's heart by one centimetre - "the difference between life and death in this case."

He said this was an attack that went too far, but that the prosecution must prove intent beyond reasonable doubt. If they are satisfied that he had the necessary intent, they must then consider the defence of provocation.

Counsel asked them to remember that Mr Lavickis was assaulted by the deceased with a knuckle duster but did not react or look for revenge. His family home was attacked and on Halloween night it kicks off again when the deceased got out of a car and chased Mr Lavickis as he was simply going about his business.

Despite that the accused went home and went to bed rather than going out looking for Mr Czajkowski. But it didn't end there, he said. The hostility persisted and all of it from Mr Czajkowski. The following morning the accused's windows are smashed and his mother in law, girlfriend and her sister are "not best pleased". He said his client's head was a "total mess" because Mr Czajkowski won't leave him alone and he is getting grief from his family.

He described a "tumult of emotion" as the accused, who had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs the night before, thought about why this was happening, that it would not end and what he was doing to do about it.

He told the jury they would have to get inside the accused man's head as this was happening. He told the jury that based on the evidence, they should find him not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh will complete her charge to the jury on Tuesday.

The trial as it happened:

Day 1, Thursday, February 8 (morning): 

Longford manslaughter plea rejected at Central Criminal Court

Day 1, Thursday, February 8 (afternoon):

Jury sworn in for Longford murder trial

Day 2 Friday, February 10 (morning):

Longford murder trial hears man was stabbed after dispute over smashed window

Day 2, Friday, February 10 (afternoon):

Longford murder trial hears accused stabbed victim three times

Day 3, Tuesday, February 13 (morning):

Longford murder accused told garda he was going to 'sort out' deceased

Day 3, Tuesday, February 13 (afternoon):

Accused had blood on his trousers when he informed partner he stuck knife in victim's 'belly'

Day 4, Wednesday, February 14 (morning):

Partner of accused in Longford murder trial feared revenge

Day 4, Wednesday, February 14 (afternoon):

Longford murder accused owed deceased money for cannabis he received 'on tick'

Day 5, Thursday, February 15 (morning):

Single stab wound to the heart caused death of Longford father of two

Day 5, Friday, February 15 (afternoon):

Father of two had drugs and alcohol in system when he died from stab wound to heart

Day 6, Friday, February 16 (morning):

Drug dealer wanted to teach deceased a lesson

Day 6, Friday, February 16 (afternoon):

Longford murder trial hears drug dealer wanted to teach deceased a lesson

Day 7, Tuesday, February 20 (morning):

Accused tells Longford murder trial he didn't mean to harm deceased

Day 7, Tuesday, February 20 (afternoon):

Longford murder accused tells trial: 'It's not the kind of person I am, to stab anyone'

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