Julius Czapla murder trial: Mum 'found tot covered in blood and blue in the face'

The mother of a toddler allegedly murdered by his father found her son covered in blood and blue in the face, a court has been told.

By Dan Barker
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 1:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st April 2022, 4:26 pm

Lukasz Czapla is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh accused of murdering his son Julius at a property in Muirhouse in the city on November 20 or 21, 2020.

The 15-strong jury on Thursday heard the statement Patrycja Szczesniak gave to police about the moment she found her son dead.

She said when she entered Julius's bedroom, he was covered in blood and his face was blue.

Julius Czapla; Two-year-old was found dead in a flat in Edinburgh's Muirhouse

"I knew he was dead," she added.

Earlier, Czapla's neighbour Tracy Stirling told the court she, Ms Szczesniak and fellow neighbour Joanne Gorrie had been at the door of the defendant's home moments before the boy was found dead.

Ms Stirling said when the door was opened, Czapla "had blood around his nose".

She added: "I could smell alcohol. I don't know if he was maybe drunk. His eyes looked like they were rolling a bit."

Ms Stirling said that after Ms Szczesniak and Czapla had a discussion in their native Polish, the door was pushed shut before it was reopened moments later.

The witness told the court: "Patrycja was at the door asking me to come in. I didn't go right in, just put my foot in the door so Lukasz couldn't shut the door again.

"She goes walking to the bottom of the hall, turns right, and lets out a big scream like she knew there was something wrong.

"Then next thing she comes out saying 'he's killed my baby, he's killed my baby'."

Czapla denies murder and his QC, Iain McSporran, called for a special defence which stated his client was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of his son's death.

The court has been shown photographs of inside the house, with the bath full of water and a knife on the corner. Another knife was on the closed toilet seat lid, and a black handgun was on the floor.

As a joint minute detailing Julius's injuries was read out to court by Alan Cameron, prosecuting, Czapla, 41, sat in the dock with his head in his hands.

The court was told that at 9.32am on November 21, 2020, emergency services received several calls about the incident, and at 9.45am paramedics declared the boy dead.

Pathologists at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital found wounds inflicted by an air gun, with steel ball bearings recovered from his body.

They also found a 9cm stab wound to his body, alongside a number of other injuries. They said it was not possible to work out in which order the injuries were inflicted.

The court heard Ms Szczesniak told officers she and Czapla had split amicably.

The court heard Czapla had lost his father at a young age and had no brothers or sisters.

In the early hours of November 21, the court was told, Ms Szczesniak got a text from Czapla.

She said of the message: "He doesn't want Julius to have same life he did. That he was going to leave and take Julius with him."

Czapla offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide but it was not accepted by the Crown.

He faces nine other charges against him, including drink-driving, drug possession, and having an air weapon. He denies all charges.

The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.