Saturday 18 January 2020

'Witness saw men beat and kick deceased before dragging him to river', murder trial hears

Accused Leszek Sychulec
Accused Leszek Sychulec

Natasha Reid

A witness has told a murder trial that he saw two men drag the deceased out of a car, beat and kick him for 15 minutes before dragging him to the River Shannon, from which his body was later recovered.

Kuba Zmuda was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court in the trial of two men charged with murdering the 23-year-old. The court has heard that Patryk Krupa drowned while incapacitated with a head injury from a violent assault.

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 on June 20th, 2014.

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 said that he received a call from the owner of a black BMW that evening and that he went to a roundabout in Athlone to meet him. He said he was told to ‘jump in’.

He said he got into the front passenger seat, that the owner was driving and that there were ‘two lads’ in the back.

“One of them was Leszek,” he said.

He testified that one of the men was big and muscular, while the other man was tall with black hair.

“The big lad had glasses on, and had shoes covered in blood,” he said.

Mr Zmuda said that the men in the back told him to ring Mr Krupa, whom he knew. He rang his phone, but got no answer.

“The lads told me to find him so I rang his sister,” he testified.

His sister said he had gone to the gym so they drove there. The driver went into the gym but Mr Krupa wasn’t there so, knowing that he was on his way, they drove into Athlone Town.

He said they met Mr Krupa walking along Church Street with two friends. He said the two men got out of the back of the car and started talking to Mr Krupa. He said that he didn’t hear what was said as he was still in the car, which was driven down a lane and parked.

He said that the two men then arrived at the car with Mr Krupa.

“They pulled him into the back passenger seat, the middle,” he testified.

“Then they started shouting,” he said. “They were beating him and asking for money.”

He said that the car was driven to the Roscommon side of the Shannon, under the N6 bridge over the river.

“They dragged Paddy from the car, the two lads in the back,” he said. “Paddy was crying.”

“They started boxing him and kicking him,” he continued, adding that this went on for 10 or 15 minutes.

“He (Mr Krupa) was crying and saying to stop, that he (was) going to pay back,” he said.

He said that, ‘after the beating’ Mr Krupa was on the ground and the two men were beside him.

“They grabbed him on both sides of his arms,” he said.

He explained that that the driver turned the car, but he could see a little of what was happening in the mirror and said that the two men dragged the deceased to the water.

He was asked if Mr Krupa was resisting.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

He said that the two men returned to the car without Mr Krupa and that they dropped him (the witness) off in Athlone.

“(They said) that I need to shut my mouth, don’t say anything about this or they’re going to find me and the same thing (would) happen,” he said.

Mr Zmuda will be cross examined today

It’s the State’s case that the two accused took Mr Krupa from the centre of Athlone to Bogganfin that evening, and that they gave him ‘an absolutely savage beating’ before putting him into the river.

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

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