Wednesday 28 September 2016

Witness tells murder trial he 'did not inform gardai because he was terrified'

Natasha Reid

Published 13/04/2016 | 18:48

Accused Leszek Sychulec
Accused Leszek Sychulec

One of the main State witnesses in a murder trial has agreed that he didn’t tell gardai anything he had told the trial until they had pulled him for murder.

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Kuba Zmuda was today being cross examined by the barrister for one of two men charged with murdering a 23-year-old by beating him unconscious and leaving him to drown in the River Shannon.

The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that Patryk Krupa drowned while incapacitated with a head injury from a violent assault on June 20th, 2014.

Leszek Sychulec (34) of Drinan, Ballymahon, Co Longford and Andrzej Gruchacz (35) with an address in Warsaw, Poland are charged with murdering Mr Krupa at Bogganfin, Athlone, Co Roscommon.

Each man has pleaded not guilty. Both also deny a second charge each of falsely imprisoning Mr Krupa in Athlone on the same date.

Mr Zmuda testified yesterday that he was in the back of a car into which two men pulled Mr Krupa in Athlone town centre that evening.

He said he was still in this black BMW when the two men dragged Mr Krupa out of the car on the banks of the Shannon, and that he witnessed them beating him for 15 minutes before dragging him to the river.

The witness said the men warned him to say nothing about what he had seen when they dropped him back into the town later.

However, Mr Zmuda was then cross examined by Sean Gillane SC, defending Mr Sychulec.

“You never told a single syllable of what you told this jury to any member of An Garda Siochana until they pulled you for murder,” suggested the barrister.

“I was in shock,” he replied. “I didn’t know what to do.”

He agreed that he had met Mr Krupa’s sister at a barbecue afterwards, but that he hadn’t said anything to her.

“I was scared about my life as well,” he said.

He agreed that Mr Krupa’s girlfriend had phoned him before Mr Krupa was found and, perhaps, while still alive. She asked him if he knew where her boyfriend was, but he said no.

“Yes, because I was terrified,” he replied. “The same thing could have happened to me.”

He also agreed that he had lied to the gardai when first arrested.

Mr Gillane asked how he felt being arrested on suspicion of murder and being asked if he had beaten Mr Krupa.

“I did not feel well about it because it was not me who did it,” he said.

Mr Zmuda said he had no physical contact with the deceased and never said a word to him.

He was asked if he felt that he was possibly in big trouble.

“Yes, I did feel I could somehow be linked to that,” he said.

“Being arrested on suspicion of murder, you’d an interest in Number One, you, and minimising your role and maximising the role of others to save yourself,” suggested Mr Gillane.

“I’d nothing to hide,” he replied.

“Your approach means you get to sit where you sit and Mr Sychulec gets to sit where he sits,” concluded Mr Gillane.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of four women and eight men.

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