Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Alleged killer comforted by Catherine's parents

Catherine Wells-Burr. Photo: Avon & Somerset Police

The parents of Catherine Wells-Burr have described how they comforted her alleged killer - as her burned corpse lay in a nearby field.

The 23-year-old is said to have been smothered by her Polish boyfriend Rafal Nowak, 31, as she slept at their home in Chard.

It is alleged Nowak then left their home before his lover Anna Julia Lagwinowicz, 32, and her uncle Tadevsz Dmytryszyn, 38, removed her body and burned it in a nearby field.

The three Polish nationals deny murdering Bath Spa business graduate Catherine in September last year.

Rafal Nowak, Anna Julia Lagwinowicz, and Tadevsz Dmytryszyn deny murdering Catherine. Credit: ITV News West Country

A jury at Bristol Crown Court heard today how Nowak broke down and told Catherine's family "I lost my world, I lost my future" before her body was discovered.

Her sister Leanne also told how Nowak said he "felt like they were suspects" as they waited outside the room where police were telling Catherine's parents she was dead.

Leanne told the court: "He felt that me and him were both suspects because we were kept in the kitchen rather than with Mum and Dad who were with the CID in the lounge.

"He did say to me that she will come back. I said I hoped so."

Leanne said the couple were affectionate towards each other and appeared to be in love.

She told the court: "They usually would cuddle, kiss, be quite affectionate together."

Bristol Crown Court heard Catherine planned to have children with Nowak, who already had a wife and son in his native country.

Her parents, Jayne and Philip Wells-Burr, treated Nowak "like a son" and even "welcomed him back into the family" when he was released without charge by police who arrested him after Catherine's death.

The pair, who are amicably separated, allowed him to sleep "at the end of their bed" and comforted him, the court was told.

Philip, who works at Numatic International, said his last view of his daughter was her acting "lovey dovey" with Nowak as they drove home together on the night before her death.

He said: "I got in my car and I looked over and saw them kissing each other. That was the last time I saw Catherine."

The father-of-two, of Chard, said the relationship between Catherine and Nowak was happy, although he was "possessive".

He added: "He was constantly phoning Catherine, during work time and break time."

His mother, Veronica Wells-Burr, who was given a lift home by the couple on the night before she died, also gave evidence about the relationship.

The grandmother said: "Catherine and Rafal adored each other.

"When I saw them they would look adoringly at each other and used words like 'gorgeous' and 'darling'."

Prosecutors claim Nowak had been having an affair with his ex-girlfriend, Lagwinowicz, for months - and the couple hatched a plot to kill Catherine.

It is alleged Nowak suffocated Catherine in the early hours before her body was driven to a field seven miles away in her car and set alight by Lagwinowicz and Dmytryszyn.

The jury was told Nowak and Lagwinowicz planned to cash in on Catherine's £123,000 life insurance and share of the couple's new build two-bedroomed home.

The couple's house in Chard. Credit: ITV News West Country

Catherine's mother Jayne told the jury she comforted Nowak - who called her "Mummy" - after her daughter was reported missing.

Jayne said Rafal had put his head in his hands as he sat waiting for police outside the couple's home - where he had allegedly smothered Catherine hours before.

She said: "I was worried. Rafal opened the door with his key. I went in to the house and phoned 999.

"He was sat on the path in front of the front door. I cuddled him. I said Catherine loved him.

"He said he hoped so. Then he said he had lost his future, he had lost his world. She was just missing. He said he begged her not to go."

Mrs Wells-Burr said Rafal was later arrested and taken in for questioning by police before being released without charge.

The family congregated at Mrs Wells-Burr's home in Chard - where they were joined by Rafal.

Mrs Wells-Burr said: "We welcomed him back in the family. He was a witness. We all slept in one room. He was very cold and unemotional. He never spoke about Catherine at all."

The trial, expected to last for eight weeks, continues.

More on this story