•Daniel Pelka, four, died after sustaining massive blow to the head
•Mother Magdalena Luczak and partner Mariusz Krezolek had denied murder
•Daniel was forced to scavenge food from school bins in the final weeks of his life because he was so hungry
•He was ‘imprisoned’ in a tiny box room and forced to sleep on an old mattress in a room which stank or urine
A mother and stepfather who battered their four-year-old boy to death after six months systematic starvation and ‘incomprehensible’ cruelty were today found guilty of murder.
Daniel Pelka was forced to scavenge food from school bins and steal from classmates in Coventry because he was so hungry in the weeks before he died.
The child was regularly ‘imprisoned’ in a locked room, force-fed salt and made to perform arduous punishment exercises.
Today his parents Magdelena Luczak and stepfather Mariusz Krezolek were convicted of murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court.
For at least five months before his death, Daniel was kept in an unheated boxroom where he was imprisoned with nothing but a flimsy, stained mattress.
Luczak and Krezolek used vanilla-scented air fresheners to mask the smell of urine in the shabby room.
When police first arrived at the house after Daniel’s death, his killers had put a child’s bike and other items inside to mock an air of normality.
The door handle had been removed on the inside and a metal plate covering the lock was upside down so that he could not even look out of the room.
Detective Inspector Chris Hanson told Birmingham Crown Court: ‘I guess as the penny dropped or the realisation hit us, we were certain that that’s where Daniel was sleeping.
‘The room smelt strongly of urine, the carpet was wet, some of the walls appeared wet and damp, there was mould on the walls and you could clearly see palm and fingerprints belonging to a child on that door.
‘Because of their height and because they are tiny, they are consistent, in my opinion, with a child of around three or four years old.
‘I could see that the door had been adapted to essentially become a prison cell door so that once the door was closed, anybody left in that room had no chance of getting out.’
By the time Mariusz Krezolek summoned urgent medical help by dialling 999 at 3.07am on March 3 last year, Daniel Pelka was already dead.
Although paramedics arrived just seven minutes later and made efforts to revive Daniel, they immediately noticed his emaciated body was cold to the touch and that his lips were blue.
A 10-strong medical team attempted to resuscitate the boy at Coventry’s University Hospital before death was formally pronounced at 3.50am.
But detectives and medical professionals are sure Daniel had died before the emergency services were alerted – and that the 999 call featuring Krezolek and then Magdelena Luczak was a cruel and heartless sham.
After taking over the call from Krezolek, Daniel’s mother gave details of his condition which were obviously bogus given the brain injury he was later found to have suffered.
Luczak can be heard crying and giving her partner instructions in Polish on the 999 recording.
In the first of a litany of lies to the authorities about the death, Luczak told the operator: ‘He started feeling very bad today.’
After asserting that Daniel had ‘complained of pain’ and nothing more, Luczak added: ‘He’s stopped breathing, please help me.’
Commenting on the emergency call, Detective Inspector Chris Hanson, who oversaw the murder inquiry, said: ‘I have listened to lots of 999 calls over the years because a basic line of inquiry when a child has died is to listen to the 999 tapes because you can hear some very significant comments in the background.
‘Very often you find that you can’t understand what (parents) are saying because they are so anxious they’re screaming for help.
‘This was different because it was rather more calculated and sounded rather more coached.
‘Straightaway I just felt: ‘that’s not true, that’s been staged if you like’.
‘I thought this is very different, it doesn’t sound right – and it’s been proved it wasn’t.’
TEXT MESSAGES THAT HELPED CONVICT KILLER MOTHER AND STEPFATHER
When Magdelena Luczak was arrested at her home she was shaking, appeared to be extremely nervous – and was holding the mobile phone which helped to convict her of murder.
Text messages sent from the handset provided evidence of the defendants’ drug and alcohol abuse, their remorseless mistreatment of Daniel Pelka, and their attempts to keep the abuse from teachers, social workers and medical staff.
In one chilling message, Daniel’s mother wrote that he was ‘temporarily unconscious because I nearly drowned him.’
She wrote that she was having some quiet time – but threatened to submerge him in the water again.
Luczak wrote: ‘I won’t be hitting him but if I hear him when he later wakes up then he’s going back to the bathtub. I didn’t let the water out’.
Listed in chronological order, here are some of the text messages which passed between Mariusz Krezolek and Luczak, translated into English from Polish for the court proceedings.
October 7, 2011
8.46am – Sent by Krezolek: ‘Magda, lead him to the room and lock him there, you’ll have some peace and do wait for me.’
9.15am – Sent by Luczak: ‘We’ll deal with Rudy (Daniel) after school, he won’t see grub at all. I’m going home now call me on your break.’
12.24pm – Sent by Luczak: ‘Let’s buy the white stuff instead of Vodka today. We would have some fun later and you could sit at the computer and look for a car.’
October 21, 2011
6.43am – Sent by Luczak: ‘When you’re going to the shop then do remove Rudy’s door handle so (Daniel’s sibling) won’t be opening the door for him.’
12.04pm – Sent by Luczak: ‘Buy salt as a must, if you have enough money then sugar as well.’
November 15, 2011
9.35am – Sent by Luczak: ‘I’ll call this clinic and change this appointment for (Daniel) because he’s even more ill than he was.’
December 14, 2011
9.40am – Sent by Luczak: ‘I was telling you I’d be having problems and a punishment because he’s not at school. The hags from the council were here!’
February 1, 2012
8.54am – Sent by Luczak: ‘You were striking him by the hands and he’s saying in the lady’s presence that it’s hurting and I told him if he doesn’t talk such nonsense he’d get a chocolate bar later on.’
February 2, 2012
7.47 am – Sent by Luczak: ‘One of his hands is livid blue and what am I supposed to do now.’
8.24am – Sent by Luczak: ‘I rubbed this hand of his with antibiotic ointment and I’ll call school before 9.’
10.21am – Sent by Luczak: ‘Well now he’s temporarily unconscious because I nearly drowned him. He’s already in bed covered with the duvet and asleep and I am having some quiet time.’
10.24am – Sent by Luczak: ‘I won’t be hitting him but if I hear him when he later wakes up then he’s going back to the bathtub. I didn’t let the water out.’
February 8, 2012
12.11pm – Sent by Luczak: ‘I’m leaving these marks of yours to you as they aren’t coming off.’
March 2, 2012
4.34pm – Sent by Luczak to Krezolek, as Daniel lay dying of a brain injury: ‘He’ll get over it by tomorrow. There is no point to stress ourselves out and to call an ambulance because that will cause proper problems.’