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Tuesday 23 May 2017

Father was in 'dark place' before killing ex-girlfriend

Search goes on for body of troubled asylum seeker who jumped off cliff

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A WEST-African man who killed his former girlfriend before throwing himself off a cliff had revealed to friends he was "in a dark place".

A search continues off the Co Kerry coast for the remains of Stephen Godsun Ukiwo, 33, who jumped from the cliff at Ballybunion last Tuesday night.

Katarzyna Bartowiak, 24, who was originally from Poznan in Poland, was found dead in an upstairs room at her rented house on the Deerpark Estate in Tralee last Tuesday.

It is understood that she had been strangled. Her two-year-old son was in the house at the time.

Ms Bartowiak's brother Tomasz and aunt Elena, who are in Ireland to arrange the transportation of her remains back to Poland, said her relationship with Mr Ukiwo, who was the father of her child, had ended.

Friends of Stephen Ukiwo, who had the nickname 'Snoop', revealed how their friend had become distant over the past number of months and had withdrawn from them and not returned phone calls.

Somali native Mikhail Osman had first got to know Snoop when they were both living in hostels for asylum seekers in Tralee. He said they had struck up an unlikely friendship, as he was a Muslim and Mr Ukiwo was a Christian from Benin, but their love of soccer brought them together.

"We helped set up Cosmos FC together for asylum seekers and migrant workers just to help relieve the boredom and frustration of living in a hostel," said Mr Osman, who described his friend as "the shining star of the team".

"The hostel was a very difficult environment to live in. Every day there were skirmishes, fights and disagreements but Snoop was never involved. His record at the Atlas Hostel was impeccable."

Mr Ukiwo and Mr Osman had both come to Ireland in 2006 as asylum seekers. Mr Osman said that, up until the day he died, his friend was still an "asylum seeker".

"Whatever happened to him I can't explain, but I will defend him to the end and he was no monster," he said. "He was a church-going, God-fearing Christian. Whatever got into his head to kill Kasia was something that was out of control."

Mr Ukiwo moved out of the hostel when he married an African woman, Christine. The couple's daughter Anna-Nina was born in Tralee in 2007. His marriage broke up when he began a relationship with Ms Bartowiak but he was not divorced.

Because of his status as an asylum seeker, Mr Ukiwo was not allowed to work although neighbours said he did work for a company that collected unwanted clothing.

Micheal Carr, who is the secretary of Lisselton Soccer Club, got to know Mr Ukiwo when he played there. He also got to know Ms Bartowiak and employed her as a child minder to his two children during the summer of 2008.

"The circumstances they lived in weren't great but they seemed to be very close," Mr Carr said.

"Katrina came from a very sad situation. A number of years ago her own mother was murdered over a mobile phone. She was heartbroken. But she was a very lovable person. They both saw Ireland as their home but they were the victims of what Ireland is today," he added.

Sunday Independent

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