Rihards Lavickis, Annaly Court, Longford (inset right) is on trial charged with the murder of Akadiusz 'Arek' Czajkowski (inset left) at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Longford.
A murder accused’s barrister has likened his client’s situation at the time of the killing to that of Michael Corleone in the Godfather III, when he was trying to get out of crime but kept being pulled back in.
John Shortt SC was giving his closing speech this (Wednesday) morning in the trial of a drug dealer, who fatally stabbed another drug dealer after ‘an accumulation of incidents’ including one in which the deceased had attacked the accused with a knuckle duster.
Rihards Lavickis stabbed Akadiusz ‘Arik’ Czajkowski in broad daylight outside Longford Shopping Centre. He’s admitted that he went out with a knife that day to ‘get him’ for threatening his family and breaking their windows.
The 26-year-old, originally from Latvia but with an address at Annaly court in Longford, is charged with murdering the Polish father-of-two on November 1, 2016 at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Townspark in the town.
The father-of-one has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter, and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Shortt reminded the jury of evidence that the accused owed the deceased money for drugs and that the deceased had attacked his client with a knuckle duster months before the killing.
He recalled that the accused’s family’s window had been broken about five times during those months, the most recent time being in the early hours of that morning.
The accused had called gardai and nominated the deceased as a suspect, telling the officers that he would ‘get him’. They had warned him not to, that they would deal with it.
However, he had gone out with a knife looking for the deceased. He later saw him, chased him and stabbed him three times.
Mr Shortt argued that his client had lacked the necessary intent to kill or cause serious injury when he’d chased him and stabbed him that morning.
“If you were going to murder someone, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to set up the killing in broad daylight on a main thoroughfare,” he said. “Yes he ran at him with the knife. That does not either suggest that he intended to kill him or cause serious harm.”
He noted that his client had decided to stop striking him after stabbing him for the third time.
“We know that when the deceased was at the accused’s mercy on the ground, the accused stopped,” he said. “He walks one direction and it appears the deceased gets up and walks the other direction.”
Mr Shortt said that if the jury believed that his client did have the necessary intention for murder, it could then look at the issue of provocation. This can reduce murder to manslaughter if the accused completely lacked self control by being provoked by the deceased.
He said that the drug debt had been reduced to a lesser sum on the basis that his client would not make a formal garda complaint about the knuckle duster incident. However, the deceased was not inclined to let go of this issue, he said.
“So, it’s an accumulation of incidents that lead to a total loss of self control at the time,” said Mr Shortt. “It’s almost like the scene in the Godfather III, where Michael Corleone is sitting there. He’s trying to get out of crime but something’s happened and he says: ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in’.”
He asked the jury to reach a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, said that ‘if a person sticks a knife into the chest of another, then the natural and probable consequences are death or serious injury’.
“The presumption arises that the accused intended to cause death or serious injury,” he said, explaining that the intention to cause either of these was enough for murder.
“He went out with a knife, to take revenge on him for what he perceived he’d done to himself and his family,” he said of the accused.
“He ran across the road with the knife raised in an aggressive manner,” he continued, reminding the jury of the CCTV footage, which showed the chase but not the stabbing.
“He’s chasing after him to kill or cause serious injury,” he suggested.
He said that taking the law into one’s own hands, brooding over perceived wrongs and deciding to put an end to troubles was not provocation.
“He tells the gardai that when the first two stabs didn’t seem to be working, he pushed it further in the next time, clear evidence of intention and preplanning, being in control of what he was doing and not being out of self control,” he said.
“When he pushes it in further. It’s planned and calculated. Because it is, whatever the background, it’s not provocation.”
He said that having a bad history with someone was not enough for provocation.
“It’s not enough if they’ve been threatening to your family and you decide you’re going to take matters into your own hands,” he said “That’s vigilantism and would ultimately lead to the law of the jungle.”
He said the killing was planned and not done when the accused was out of control. He said that he’d had plenty of time between discovering the broken window at 8am and 11.40am, when he carried out the stabbing.
“A lot happened in that time, including him planning the attack, inconsistent with him acting at a time he was out of control,” he said.
He suggested that it was the jury’s obligation to return a verdict of murder.
Mr Justice Michael White has now begun charging the jury of eight men and four women, who will then retire to consider the verdict.