A man has been convicted of murdering his two-year-old son by shooting him repeatedly in the head with an air gun, before stabbing and smothering him.
Lukasz Czapla killed his son, Julius, after discovering the child’s mother was in a new relationship. He was given a life sentence and will serve at least 23 years in prison.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard it was an act of “revenge and jealousy”.
The former IT technician had pleaded guilty to culpable homicide, claiming diminished responsibility but prosecutors declined his plea and pursued a murder conviction.
The 41-year-old told the court he shot his son while he was sleeping with a gas-powered air pistol in an attempt to kill him.
When the child woke up, in distress, he stabbed him with a skewer and smothered him with a pillow.
Julius had stayed at his father’s flat at Muirhouse, Edinburgh, in November 2020. The boy’s parents had separated two months previously.
Giving evidence during the trial, Czapla claimed that he killed his son because he had decided to end his own life and did not want to leave him alone.
He said he tried to kill himself using various methods as “he didn’t want to live”.
Czapla was asked by his lawyer Iain McSporran QC: “When you shot Julius in the head, did you think that would kill him?”
Czapla replied: “Yes.”
Mr McSporran asked: “And do you recall how many shots you fired?”
Czapla replied: “No.”
The lawyer asked: “What was the effect of shooting him in the head?”
Czapla said: “He woke up.”
Mr McSporran asked: “What were you trying to do?”
Czapla replied: “Well, I thought he would leave this world instantly. He would stop living.”
Mr McSporran asked: “Did you want him to suffer?”
Czapla replied: “No, no. I did not want him to suffer at all. That was not the intention. I had this stupid idea from the TV that people just die instantly.”
The court heard that Czapla then smothered and stabbed his son.
‘My baby, my baby, he killed my baby’
Julius was described in evidence by a neighbour, Joanne Gorrie, as an “intelligent child” and a “lovely, happy wee boy”.
She told how his mother, Patrycja Szczesniak, had gone to Czapla’s flat on the morning of 21 November 2020 and emerged screaming: “My baby, my baby, he killed my baby.”
Prosecutor Alan Cameron told the jury that, despite Czapla’s claims of diminished responsibility, the evidence showed that he was motivated by anger and jealousy.
Referring to a series of text messages he had sent to Patrycja on the night of the murder, Mr Cameron said: “What really set him off that night, what p***ed him off, what infuriated him to use his own language, was her refusal to answer questions about her new partner and their sex life – not about her son at all.”
‘My suffering and my pain will stay with me for the rest of my life’
Speaking after Czapla’s conviction, Ms Szczesniak said her family will “fight to ensure that monster never leaves prison”.
“Juliusz 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,” she said in a statement.
“We want to believe in the justice system and that justice will be served, although I know there is no sentence that will bring my angel back to life.”
Ms Szczesniak paid tribute to her son, describing him as “a very happy child” who could “put a smile on anyone’s face”.
“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,” she said.
“Every day I think about Juliusz. 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.
“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 Juliusz will never end.”