"...one gets the sense that ultimately his decision to annihilate his family came from his belief that somehow his wife had fallen short of the standards that he had expected.... He fits that classic picture of the family annihilator who’s seeking revenge on a partner who has let him down and then also attempting to take his own life so that the criminal justice system can’t judge him, he’ll be...his own judge as it were.”
Professor David Wilson - Criminologist
Some said Damian had killed in cold blood. But the frenzied nature of the attacks suggested otherwise. The Polish community feel embarrassed and concerned that one man’s actions will mean they’re all judged. But mainly people feel sympathy for the victims’ families. Scores of floral tributes are left at the crime scene. A charity appeal raises £15,000 to pay for the funerals.
The funerals, involving children as they do, mean few people remain dry-eyed. And it’s not just the Polish community that attends the Catholic service. Everyone on the island is reeling from the slayings.
Damian Rzeszowski, 31, stands trial at Jersey’s Royal Court almost a year after the killings. He’s since been transferred to Broadmoor, the UK’s maximum security prison hospital. His extensive psychiatric assessment proves the most controversial part of the complex ten day trial. Experts contradict each other as to whether the killer was sane at the time of the stabbings.
At his early pre-trial hearings, he’d submitted a plea of manslaughter which indicated some acceptance of responsibility for his actions.
Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull wants him to stand trial for murder.
The judge and two Jurats (elected lay jurors) hear how Rzeszowski claimed to have heard voices in his head on the day he stabbed his wife. The weeks beforehand had been filled with rows with his wife. There had been periods of depression and heavy drinking. And of course, there was his suicide attempt.
The court also hears that Rzeszowski’s already disintegrating marriage had been further strained when Izabela had admitted to a two-month affair. His subsequent drinking had resulted in a one night stand.
The prosecution said he’d changed his story repeatedly casting doubt on his credibility. They characterise Rzeszowski as a ‘pressure cooker who lacks a safety valve.’ Rzeszowski spends most of the trial staring at the floor.
Almost unbelievably, Damian Rzeszowski is controversially cleared of the murders. As he is found not guilty of murder, Rzeszowski shows no emotion. He pleads guilty to manslaughter instead. His defence had successfully argued that his depression had caused an onset of psychotic symptoms, diminishing his responsibility.
The verdict is met with a mixture of disbelief and anger by the victims’ families.
On 29 October 2012, Damian Rzeszowski was sentenced to 30 years in prison. It took the Jurats two hours to consider their verdict.
“The horror and brutality of these killings is hard to believe.”
Judge Sir Michael Birt
Rzeszowski was transferred back to the UK. He is currently serving his sentence in Her Majesty’s maximum security prison Full Sutton.
His daughter’s classmates still grieve for the friend he took away. They have created a garden outside their classroom in Kinga’s memory. In it there is a blossom tree that blooms with what was her favourite colour - pink.