Trial told that deceased had attacked Longford murder accused with knuckle duster

Natasha Reid

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Natasha Reid

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Trial told that deceased had attacked Longford murder accused with knuckle duster

Rihards Lavickis, Annaly Court, Longford (inset right) is accused of murdering Akadiusz 'Arek' Czajkowski (inset left) at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Longford.

The partner of a drug dealer on trial charged with murder has testified that the deceased had attacked him with a knuckle duster months earlier, and had smashed in their windows a number of times over a drug debt.

Inita Rozkalna also identified the knife with which the accused is believed to have stabbed the deceased outside a shopping centre in broad daylight. However, she told his trial that she couldn’t call him a bad person.

Also read: Longford man accused of murder told gardaí he would ‘sort out’ the deceased

She was giving evidence yesterday (Tuesday) on the second day of the 26-year-old’s murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Rihards Lavickis, originally from Latvia, but with an address at Annaly court, Longford is charged with the murder of Polish man Akadiusz ‘Arik’ Czajkowski on November 1, 2016 at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Townspark in the town. Both men were known to the gardai and had convictions.

The father-of-one has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter. The State has not accepted this plea.

Ms Rozkalna told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that she and her partner had shared an apartment with their child and a number of other people.

She said that she had first met the deceased, known to her as Archie or Arthur, a number of months earlier. He and another man had called to their home to ask her partner for €300, saying that he owed him this money for drugs.

She said that her partner was speaking to these men outside, when she heard her housemate scream. The witness opened the door and saw these two men punching her partner, who was bleeding.

She agreed that the accused had sold the drugs involved but hadn’t given the money back. He got no more drugs off the deceased after that.

She said that he arrived drunk another night and smashed their window. Although she hadn’t seen the deceased do it, she said that her partner had told her that it was the deceased.

She said that the night before the stabbing was Halloween, and that her partner had gone uptown. When he returned, he told her that ‘Archie’ had asked him for the €300 while there, but the accused had told him that he would not give it back.

Her sister’s screams alerted her to another broken window in their living room the following morning. The court earlier heard from a garda, who attended the scene and took a complaint from the family about the criminal damage that morning.

The witness said that her partner left to meet another drug dealer after 11am, but returned 10 minutes later. She said he looked very different and had blood on his tracksuit bottoms.

He told her: “I fight with this Arthur guy… I did with a knife.”

He said that he had stabbed this man twice. She told him that the man might be dying, but he said: “No, he is alright.”

She said that the gardai soon arrived and took her partner away, and that she became stressed and started to clean the house. While cleaning her bedroom, something got stuck in the vacuum cleaner and she saw that it was a knife.

Mr McGrath then showed her what he said was ‘believed to be the knife’. She identified it as the one she had found in her bedroom.

Under cross examination by John Shortt SC, defending, she said that she and the accused had had a good relationship.

“In fact I cannot call him a bad person. He was trying. He was taking care of our child,” she said. “Yes, he was dealing drugs. He was selling them, but he didn’t do anything bad in his life.”

Mr Shortt asked her if the deceased had any weapon when he’d attacked him outside their apartment in April 2016.

“He had a metal thing in his hand, on his fingers,” she replied, confirming that it was a knuckle duster.

“I was afraid of him. I was afraid for the children and I didn’t know what was going to happen next,” she said. “All that was in the house were we two women and kids.”

She said that, altogether, the window in their apartment had been smashed three or four times by the time of the stabbing.

Earlier, the court heard that the accused told gardai he’d ‘get the fella’ who’d smashed his front window a couple of hours before the stabbing.

Gda Daniel Lynch testified that he responded to a 999 call of criminal damage at the accused man’s home at 9.10am that day.

He saw a broken window in the living room and a chair underneath. Ms Rozkalna informed him that the chair wasn’t hers and had been used to break the window during the night.

Mr Lavickis then indicated that he knew who had broken the window.

“He nominated a male known as Arik to him,” testified Gda Lynch. “He said he was always at him, he always wanted to fight with him, and he would sort him out.”

Gda Lynch told him not to, that gardai would look into the matter for him. He informed Ms Rozkalna that a scenes of crime team would come to examine the apartment.

Just over two hours after leaving the property, Gda Lynch received a call to a stabbing at Longford Shopping Centre. He arrived and found the deceased lying on the ground being tended to by a nurse. The court heard that he died on arrival at hospital.

Gda Lynch was cross examined by Mr Shortt.

“He said he’d get the fella who did it,” he testified, reading from the notes he made at the time. “He was annoyed.”

Mr Shortt noted that both men had previous convictions and were known to the gardai in the town.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of eight men and four women.