Warning: This report contains descriptions of child abuse
A mother accused of murdering her son has told a court she held her son down while he was being assaulted by her partner "without consent".
Agnieska Kalinowska, who is on trial at Leeds Crown Court, was shown footage of her restraining 15-year-old Sebastian Kalinowski while he was repeatedly hit by Andrzej Latoszewski on 12 August – the day before the teenager died.
Sebastian suffered fatal complications caused by multiple untreated rib fractures following months of assaults at his home in Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
'I was scared'
Taking the stand for a fourth day of questioning, Kalinowska said she was "told" by Latoszewski to hold Sebastian down while he was assaulted.
Prosecutor Jason Pitter QC said: "So you accept holding him down while Andrzej punched him in the chest?"
Speaking through a Polish translator Kalinowska replied: "Yes, but without my consent."
Mr Pitter said: "It must have been obvious to you that those punches might do some serious damage to Sebastian."
She said: "In that moment I was scared, I was afraid."
Mr Pitter asked what Kalinowska thought would happen to Sebastian and she said she "wasn't thinking".
The prosecutor put it to her that she knew "full well" what was happening, but she said: "No sir, it's something different standing here and watching the recording, and comparing the present and the presence of a person like Andrzej."
The court has already been told that Sebastian, who had been in Huddersfield for less than a year after moving from his native Poland, suffered months of abuse at the hands of his mother and stepfather.
Many of the assaults were caught on cameras installed in the couple's house, the prosecution say to monitor the teenager.
The footage shows him being repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on. He was beaten with weapons, including a bed slat and a balustrade and whipped with a cable. He was also made to do punishing exercise "drills", including hundreds of press-ups and squats.
Latoszewski, 36, has admitted manslaughter. Kalinowska has pleaded guilty to child cruelty. But both defendants deny murder.
On Monday, 11 July, Kalinowska, who has previously said that she was under Latoszewski's control and was coerced into punishing her son, said that she tried to protect Sebastian.
Asked how, she replied: "Asking Andrzej not to beat him up, or sometimes I protected Sebastian in this way that I didn't say, or didn't disclose something about Sebastian to Andrzej."
She admitted that she was aware of a large area of bruising on Sebastian's chest in the days before his death, but claimed: "I didn't realise that it was dangerous."
She was also questioned about footage showing her grabbing Sebastian by the neck after he was whipped by her partner.
Mr Pitter said: "You knew what was wrong with Sebastian though didn't you? You could see him being whipped."
'I can't look at myself in a mirror'
Kalinowska said: "Yes, but I could not have an influence on what Andrzej was doing."
Mr Pitter added: "From what you've said you must have felt terrible about what was happening to Sebastian?"
Kalinowska replied: "Yes, and in a situation like this I should have just exposed myself, and my situation. This is why I can't look at myself in a mirror, I hate myself for this."
Mr Pitter said: "You could have contacted people to help Sebastian, do you agree with that?"
Kalinowska replied: "At this point, when I have thought through this all, I just know how the English system works, that there is a lot of help. I didn't know this, and it's just that I could have helped Sebastian, and I feel terrible about this."
She also claimed she was looking into moving out with Sebastian in the days before his death.
Kalinowska was shown footage from 11 August – two days before Sebastian died – of him curled up on the floor.
Mr Pitter said to her: "At the time, you knew Sebastian was suffering didn't you?"
She replied: "I didn't know things were this bad with him... I never thought he was in such a condition he would die."
The court has heard how Sebastian was a "model student" at North Huddersfield Trust School, but was punished for supposed bad behaviour including playing truant, lying and failing to do his homework.
In further footage shown to Kalinowska on Monday, she could be seen shoving a slipper into Sebastian's mouth.
Asked why she said: "Because Andrzej accused Sebastian of lying and he told his mouth must be blocked – just to not let him lie anymore. And he told me, 'put this slipper in his mouth'."
Mr Pitter said: "You made the decision yourself to put the slipper in his mouth, didn't you?"
Kalinowska said: "I was listening to Andrzej."
The trial continues.
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