Thirty years for killer in Jersey knife rampage

Damian Rzeszowski was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the manslaughter of his wife, two young children, his father-in-law and his wife's friend and her daughter.
Damian Rzeszowski was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the manslaughter of his wife, two young children, his father-in-law and his wife's friend and her daughter.
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A man who carried out a frenzied knife attack on six people, including his wife and two young children, has been jailed for 30 years.

Damian Rzeszowski armed himself with kitchen knives and killed his father-in-law Marek Gartska, 56, wife Izabela Rzeszowska, 30, daughter Kinga, five, and two-year-old son Kacper during a 15-minute rampage at their Jersey home in August last year.

The 31-year-old Polish builder also rounded on his wife’s friend, Marta De La Haye, 34, and her five-year-old daughter Julia, 
who were at the house for a barbecue.

Rzeszowski, who had a history of violence, was convicted of six counts of manslaughter but cleared of murder following a trial at the Royal Court in St Helier, Jersey, last August.

He had admitted the killings but his defence argued he was suffering moderate to severe depression, causing an onset of psychotic symptoms which diminished his responsibility.

Following his arrest he had been remanded to Broadmoor Hospital, in Berkshire.

Judge Michael Birt yesterday sentenced him to 30 years for each victim, to run concurrently.

Judge Birt, the Bailiff of Jersey, told the court: “The horror and brutality of these killings is hard to believe.

“Within a quarter of an hour all six people had died, their lives cruelly cut short at the hand of this defendant.

“This was not a case of murder –the court found you guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility – but you still pose a risk of harm to anyone you are in a relationship with.”

The trial had heard the attack took place against a backdrop of increasing marital difficulties.

Rzeszowski’s marriage had been under strain after his wife confessed to a two-month affair with another man and threatened to commit suicide.

He had previously caught her flirting with other men online and she had confessed she no longer loved him. In turn, he retaliated with a one-night stand of his own which he told his wife about.

After Rzeszowski took an overdose of pills in July last year, the couple agreed they would try to save their marriage, going to Poland for a holiday in an attempt to patch things up during which he had also visited a prostitute.

The stabbings took place at their home in St Helier on Sunday August 14, the day they had returned to Jersey

After the attacks, Rzeszowski told psychiatrists that, during the trip back from Poland, he began to hear voices coming from the car radio. The voices spoke in Polish, telling him he was a “bad man” and mentioning the names of his children.

He claimed the voices increased, warning him his wife and Marta were going to be raped and killed, and his children put on the barbecue.

He went out for a cigarette and the voices said “Kill, kill”, although he told a psychiatrist he did not interpret them as a command.

Mr Garstka was the first victim, stabbed nine times while lying in bed watching television.

He then stabbed his son a total of 13 times and then his daughter Kinga, who had 16 wounds. Little Julia De La Haye was also stabbed 16 times.

Izabela Rzeszowska was chased into the bathroom where she made a desperate attempt to call police but dialled 997, the Polish emergency number, rather than 999. She and her friend Marta made it out into the street where both died.

Neighbours intervened, fending off the “mumbling” knifeman with a traffic cone as he chased one of the women before turning the weapon on himself.

The court heard yesterday Rzeszowski was still not fully aware of what he did on the day of the killings. He has also sent letters to the loved ones of some of his victims but had not been able to bring himself to write to his wife’s mother.