Julius Czapla: Father guilty of murdering son, 2, 'out of spite to get back at mother'
From outside Edinburgh High Court, Kaye Nicholson reports on the case's disturbing details
Lukasz Czapla has been jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering his two-year-old son Julias in Muirhouse, Edinburgh in November 2020.
The 41-year-old previously told the High Court in Edinburgh that he shot his son in the head with an air gun before stabbing him with a skewer-like instrument and smothering him with a pillow.
The court heard Czapla said he did it in a “sick trip” after having consumed alcohol with anti-depressant medication he had been prescribed at the time.
He has denied murdering the toddler, but offered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of culpable homicide, however this was rejected by the crown.
He was immediately sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty, with a minimum of 23 years before parole.
Lukasz Czapla was previously found guilty of nine other charges on the indictment, including dangerous driving offences and possession of an air gun.
Sentences for each of these will run concurrently with his life sentence, the court heard.
Lord Beckett, addressing Czapla, said: “You have been found guilty of murdering your two-year-old son. For murder you will be sentenced to life in prison.”
He concluded Czapla “acted out of spite to kill the child to get back at his mother.”
Czapla was accused of murdering his son on 20 or 21 November 2020 by repeatedly striking him on the body with a skewer, shooting him in the head multiple times with an air pistol and placing a pillow on his face and asphyxiating him.
Iain McSporran QC, defending, urged jurors to convict his client on the culpable homicide charge, arguing that Czapla had diminished responsibility at the time of Julius’ death.
Citing evidence given by a psychiatrist, Dr Alexander Quinn, he had previously said Czapla's “depressive illness had a substantial role that led to the killing."
Also referencing Dr Quinn’s assessment of Czapla, who said he believed that the accused’s actions were a “narcissistic and entitled” act, Alan Cameron, prosecuting, urged jurors to convict Czapla of murder.
He said evidence before the jury showed the accused was motivated by anger and jealousy towards Julius' mother, Patrycja Szczesniak - also his former partner - who he was in a relationship with until June 2020.
Previous evidence heard the parents had relationship issues, with Czapla showing an obsession about his ex-partner’s supposed infidelity while they were together and his fury over her mention of a new partner.
In a statement released following his sentencing, Ms Szczesniak said she will fight to ensure Czapla “never leaves prison”.
She said: “Czapla should not have the right to any defence and we will fight to ensure that monster never leaves prison.
“I only wanted the best for you (Julius). If only I could only turn back time to have you in my arms again my child.
Ms Szczesniak had separated from Czapla just two months before he murdered Julius at his home in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh.
She added: “I wanted him to have contact with our son. I never stopped him seeing Julius. Julius loved him like every child loves their dad. He trusted him, he trusted him completely.
“Julius was murdered only for revenge. His dad wanted me to suffer, he succeeded and achieved his goal, at the cost of my beloved little boy’s life.
“Every day I think about Julius. I can’t imagine what his little, helpless heart felt that night and I feel his fear and pain every day. He was part of me, part of my heart and soul.
“Every day I ask myself why there is so much evil in this world, why the innocent have to suffer.
Ms Szczesniak said that Julius looked forward to regular contact with his grandmother and aunt and had a “strong relationship” despite the distance they lived.
She said: “That day, the world stopped, not only for me but also for my mother and my sister.
“Julius was a very happy child. He lit up the place wherever he showed up. He could put a smile on anyone’s face and always looked forward to calls with his grandma and auntie. They managed to build a strong relationship despite the distance in miles between us and enjoyed every minute they had together.
“It is breaking our hearts that we are no longer able to take his hand and lead him through life. To watch him enjoy riding his bike and eating his favourite ice cream. Listen to his giggling and laughing and being amazed by the things he learned every day.”
“My suffering and my pain will stay with me for the rest of my life. But the unconditional love I have for my baby; my dearest child Julius will never end.
“My family, friends and l will miss him dearly and we will suffer his loss until the end of our days.”