We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

File photo. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Man jailed for nine years for stabbing friend while drinking excessively during lockdown

David Bolger was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of Przemyslaw Klimczuk in 2020.

A 45-YEAR-old man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stabbing a man to death against a background of excessive drinking during a Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the case of David Bolger, who stabbed his friend Przemyslaw Klimczuk to death, was a “tragic case for all concerned” in which the “void created by the coronavirus restrictions” led to the defendant and the deceased filling their days by “excessive drinking resulting in tragic consequences”.

He said there was nothing unusual about the level of drinking in the house at that time during lockdown and it is reasonable to believe that had circumstances been different, the stabbing would not have happened.

The judge said this was not an excuse for Bolger’s behaviour or for his excessive drinking but it is “undoubtedly a background to the case”.

After a trial in July of this year, David Bolger (45), of Irish Street, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of Przemyslaw Klimczuk (43), in the house they were sharing off Greenville Lane in Enniscorthy on 1 May 2020. He had denied the murder charge.

The court heard that Bolger had been drinking since 4pm that day and he stabbed Klimczuk with a kitchen knife after becoming aggressive.

Delivering sentence today, Mr Justice Hunt said he was satisfied that Bolger found the knife somewhere in the house and did not “come equipped to do damage” as in some other manslaughter cases.

He said there was no credible basis for saying that the stabbing was carried out in self defence or as a result of provocation in circumstances where Bolger went up a flight of stairs and negotiated his way into the bedroom before inflicting the fatal injury.

The judge said he was satisfied that the finding of manslaughter rather than murder was based on the defence that Bolger lacked the necessary intention for murder due to his level of intoxication.

Mr Justice Hunt said the harm caused by the offence is self-evident and permanent and was described “succinctly” by victim impact statements from Mr Klimczuk’s children.

The judge added: “He was a relatively young man in good health and he and his family have been robbed of the many years of life that he should have otherwise had if it weren’t for the events of this terrible night.”

The defendant, he said, is in his 40s and will complete the sentence with a long part of his life still ahead.

He put the offence in the higher bracket, attracting a headline sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

Taking into account Bolger’s “genuine” remorse and his early offer to plead guilty to manslaughter, the judge reduced that to ten years and six months and suspended the final 18 months on condition that Bolger be of good behaviour and keep the peace.

He will also have to spend 12 months under probation supervision following his release and must comply with conditions set down by the probation service or he will serve the balance of the suspended portion of his sentence.

The sentence was backdated to July 6 to take into account time already served in custody.

At the Central Criminal Court last week the victim impact statement of Mr Kilmczuk’s children, Natan and Martyna, was read out by James Dwyer SC, on behalf of the State, in which the children said that all the good memories they have of their father are starting to fade.

At the Central Criminal Court last week the victim impact statement of Mr Kilmczuk’s children, Natan and Martyna, was read out by James Dwyer SC, on behalf of the State, in which the children said that all the good memories they have of their father are starting to fade.

Detective Garda Tom O’Leary gave evidence to Dwyer that Bolger and the deceased along with two others shared a rental property. On 1 May 2020, a 999 call was made concerning a stabbing at the house and the gardaí were dispatched.

Det Gda O’Leary said that the gardaí noticed Bolger sitting on a footpath opposite the residence, and on the second-floor bedroom of the house paramedics were tending to a male with a single puncture wound to his chest area. There were blood splatters in the downstairs living room and a knife was located.

A post-mortem revealed that Mr Klimczuk died from the single puncture wound.

Outlining the facts of the case, Det Gda O’Leary said that on 30 April 2020, the deceased and Bolger were consuming alcohol at home with another man, while a fourth man remained in his bedroom not drinking. The three men who were drinking were joined by two acquaintances who did not live there, and a large amount of alcohol was consumed, with several bottles of Jägermeister purchased.

The two guests left the house as Bolger was acting in an aggressive manner, and Bolger continued to engage in aggressive behaviour towards the two men who remained. The detective said there was an exchange of punches and Bolger sustained injuries. He said that there was blood on Bolger’s face and blood on the floor and chair.

Det Gda O’Leary said Mr Klimczuk went to the bedroom of another housemate and asked him if he could stay in his room as he was scared. The door was locked with both men inside, before Bolger came to the door and asked to speak to Mr Klimczuk.

Bolger was allowed entry, and the other housemate saw Mr Klimczuk fall backwards onto the bed and saw the knife in Bolger’s hand. Det Gda O’Leary said that the housemate also saw Bolger thrust the knife into Mr Klimczuk.

Det Gda O’Leary said that when the gardaí arrived at the scene, Bolger told them that a fight broke out and he went upstairs and stabbed Mr Klimczuk with a small kitchen knife.

He told gardaí that he had been drinking since 4pm and claimed that the other men had been shouting at him and saying he was “being an asshole”. Det Gda O’Leary said that Bolger had a swollen left eye, a cut over his left eye, and dried blood around his mouth.

Dwyer said that a probation report on the defendant showed that Bolger had a limited memory of the killing, but he accepted that he had committed manslaughter.

Dwyer said that Bolger told the probation services that he was devastated for causing Mr Klimczuk’s children grief and was remorseful. The probation services assessed Bolger at a moderate risk of reoffending.

Dwyer read out the victim impact statement of the victim’s children, Martyna and Natan Klimczuk, who were aged ten and 13 when they lost their father.

“All the good memories we have of him are starting to fade. He did not deserve this fate, we can barely remember his voice,” they said, adding: “We have grown to learn and accept this terrible side of society.”

Dwyer said that the Director of Public Prosecutions had placed this case of manslaughter in the highest range.

Defence counsel Colman Cody SC read out a letter of apology on behalf of Bolger, in which the defendant said he had “struggled to find the right words to say, knowing that no apologies can ever take away the pain” felt by the victim’s family.

“I have taken the life of a man I considered a friend, a good friend,” said Bolger, going on to say that Mr Klimczuk did not deserve to die the way he did, nor did his family and friends deserve this. He said he had met the victim’s children and found them to be bright and well adjusted.

“I pray that the loss of their father will not prevent them from living happy lives,” he said.

Cody said that Bolger had acknowledged that his behaviour had become volatile on the night of the killing, and he had allowed himself to be placed in this situation. He said that his client had previous convictions of a minor nature, which reflected his difficulties with alcohol.

Counsel said that Bolger had experienced mental health issues at a young age, which seemed to have deteriorated over the years.

He said that Bolger had told the probation services that he plans to remain sober, and he was remorseful for his actions and had expressed regret.