Saturday 21 October 2017

'He was no monster. Whatever got into his head to kill Kasia was something out of control'

Local resident TomMullins scans the sea near the scene at The Cliff Walk overlooking the Nun’s Strand in Ballybunion where Stephen Ukiwo jumped into the sea
Local resident TomMullins scans the sea near the scene at The Cliff Walk overlooking the Nun’s Strand in Ballybunion where Stephen Ukiwo jumped into the sea
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE victims of a tragic murder-suicide in Co Kerry had dreamed of making their home in Ireland with their two-year-old son, Sean.

Katarzyna Bartowiak (25), who was found dead at her rented home in Deerpark, Tralee, Co Kerry, on Tuesday had revealed to friends she had no desire to return to Poland even though her brother Tomasz lived there.

It is understood she was strangled. The couple's two-year-old son, Sean, was in the house at the time.

Hours after her body was found, her Benin-born partner, Stephen Godsun 'Snoop' Ukiwo (33) plunged more than 300ft to his death, off a cliff in nearby Ballybunion.

A postmortem examination was carried out at Tralee General Hospital yesterday.

Gardai have not revealed the preliminary results for "operational reasons".

A search and recovery operation continued yesterday for the body of Mr Ukiwo.

While gardai have not confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident, a source said the missing man was "of interest" to them in their investigation.

Yesterday, as friends came to terms with the tragedy, some described the couple as "exceptional people" who considered Kerry their home -- but some of Ms Bartowiak's friends said they had been concerned about how her partner treated her.

Ms Bartowiak's mother was killed in Poland a number of years ago by someone she didn't know in a row over a mobile phone.

Somali native Mikhail Osman, who has known Mr Ukiwo since 2006, said last night his friend was "no monster".

However, a close friend of Ms Bartowiak said she had "serious concerns" about their relationship and felt that her friend hadn't the "best life" with her west African partner.

"Whatever happened to him I can't explain but I will defend him to the end and he was no monster," Mr Osman told the Irish Independent of Mr Ukiwo.

"He was a church-going, God-fearing Christian. Whatever got into his head to kill Kasia was something that was out of control. I can't defend his actions and I won't but he was not a demonic person."

Mr Osman said he had first struck up the unlikely friendship with Mr Ukiwo through their mutual love of soccer and they helped set up Cosmos FC, a soccer club for asylum seekers and migrant workers.

Ms Bartowiak came to Ireland with a friend in 2006. She met Mr Ukiwo when she worked in Sean Og's pub in Tralee.

Lovable

The couple soon moved in together and rented an apartment at Parklands in the town. They moved into Deerpark about a year ago. They also lived in Ballybunion during the summer of 2008, where Ms Bartowiak got a job minding the two children of the owners of the Golf Hotel, Michael and Martina Carr.

"She was a very lovable woman," Mr Carr said yesterday.

"She went beyond the call of duty. She was unbelievable; she was such an exceptional girl. I'm numb thinking about it, she was such a lovely person. She treated our children like they were her own."

Ms Bartowiak was expecting her own baby when she worked for the Carrs in 2008 and was said to be "delighted" about the pregnancy.

"The circumstances they lived in weren't great but they seemed to be very close. They both saw Ireland as their home."

Ms Bartowiak lost her job in Dunnes Stores just two weeks ago. She had worked in the grocery section for two years. Friends said they had been under severe financial pressure as she was the breadwinner.

Mr Osman's friendship with the couple grew after he introduced 'Kasia' to his Croatian girlfriend Kristina. Mr Osman said the couple had never been happier than in December 2008 when their son Sean was born.

"At no point did I ever see them fighting. . . they seemed to be very happy together and it wasn't fake.

"Kasia and Snoop were always very warm and affectionate with each other. He didn't come across to me as someone who was jealous either. Whatever happened between them on Tuesday, I'm sure it was impulsive," he said.

However, neighbours in Deerpark said that Ms Bartowiak often looked "unhappy" unless she was with her son.

One friend of Ms Bartowiak's said she was concerned about her relationship with Mr Ukiwo.

"I don't think she had the best life with him. He was polite and everything but we had to meet behind his back," she said.

Irish Independent

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