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'My baby boy is gone forever': Man jailed for life for murdering fellow drug dealer

Rihards Lavickis (26) had pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter.

Inside the Central Criminal Court of Justice
Inside the Central Criminal Court of Justice
Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

A FATHER-OF-ONE has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a fellow drug dealer, who’d threatened his family over a €100 debt.

He chased the 31-year-old across a busy street and stabbed him to death in broad daylight.

The trial heard that Rihards Lavickis (26) admitted that he went out with a knife on 1 November 2016 “to get” Akadiusz ‘Arik’ Czajkowski for threatening his family and breaking their windows.

The Latvian native with an address at Annaly court in Longford pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to the manslaughter of the Polish father-of-two outside Longford Shopping Centre at Rue Noyal Chatillon, Townspark in the town.

It was the second time he went on trial for the murder at the Central Criminal Court. A previous jury failed to reach a verdict.

Attack

The court heard that both men had become friendly while neighbours in Annaly Court. However, the deceased, who had a severe alcohol problem, had set a number of bins on fire, causing an electricity outage lasting several days in a number of apartments.

The deceased had moved elsewhere in the town by the time Lavickis bought €300 worth of drugs off him on tic. However, the money wasn’t paid on the day the deceased wanted. So, he went with an associate to the home Lavickis shared with his partner, her mother and sister and their three young children, and attacked him with a knuckle duster.

Although Lavickis reported the attack to the gardaí, he decided not to press charges, and the drug debt was reduced to €100 as a result.

However, the trouble continued between the two men, with Lavickis holding the deceased responsible for his family’s windows being broken on up to five different occasions. During one of these incidents, his sister-in-law’s friend was sleeping in the room under attack.

The night before the killing was Halloween and Lavickis was out and about with two friends. The jury saw CCTV footage of the three men standing behind a wall before a car pulled up and the deceased and two other men getting out. The footage then showed the first three men running away.

One of Lavickis’s friends, Michael Godla, told the court that the deceased had shouted at Lavickis: “Where is the money?” and that Lavickis had replied: “I give you nothing because you beat me with a knuckle duster.”

Godla testified that the deceased had warned that he would get out of the car and give Lavickis a beating.

“Then another guy get out of the back of the car so we run away all of us,” he said, explaining that they were afraid.

“They were big guys, like both bodybuilders. There were three people inside.”

He said they were hiding for 15 minutes as the men in the car drove up and down looking for them.

Godla said that he was awoken by glass breaking around 3am the following morning and saw that Lavickis’ window had been broken. He later told Lavickis what he had seen.

Gardaí testified that Lavickis called them to report the broken window that morning. They went to his home and he nominated the deceased as a suspect, telling the officers that he would “get him”. They had warned him not to, that they would deal with it.

However, he had gone out with a knife looking for the deceased. He later saw him walking down the street, hid in a gap in a wall and gave chase as he passed by.

Death

The jury saw CCTV footage of him chasing him with a knife raised, and heard that he’d stabbed him three times just seconds later. The stabbing wasn’t caught on camera.

A post-mortem examination found that the victim died of a single stab wound to the heart. The other two wounds were not fatal, with one to his finger classed as defensive.

The defence had argued that he did not have the intent necessary for murder when he stabbed the deceased. His barrister also said that, if the jury found he had the intent, it could then find that he had been provoked by the deceased. Both defences could reduce murder to manslaughter.

However, the prosecution argued that the natural and probable consequences of sticking a knife into someone’s chest was death or serious injury, either of which could lead to a conviction of murder.

The jury spent just over three hours deliberating and found him guilty of murder by unanimous verdict.

Justice Michael White thanked the eight men and four women and excused them from jury duty for 10 years.

Victim impact statement

Sergeant Aisling Flynn then read a victim impact statement prepared by the deceased man’s mother, Halina Czajkowska, who said her son had a big heart.

“He was a lovely, caring, thoughtful boy, who loved me unconditionally,” she said of her son as a child.

She said he had never given her any trouble, was very talented, played musical instruments and loved the guitar.

She said that they had both moved to Sweden years earlier, that he had learned the language in a few months and got a job in a factory there, helping her financially.

“He had a big heart,” she said.

She said he had heard how good Ireland was, and decided to move here, falling in love and having his two children in Northern Ireland.

“I do know that he had faults,” she admitted.

I don’t know how he got involved with alcohol and drugs to such an extent… He was my beautiful boy.

She said that his murder had done irreversible psychological damage to her.

I can’t believe that I will never see him again, hug him again or hear him say ‘I love you’ at the end of a phone call.

She said that she now suffered from depression and felt suicidal at times.

“Over the last phone calls, he did not seem himself… He was always looking for money,” she said. “He would never ask for money from me. It was usually Arik giving the money to help me.”

She said that she had been planning to bring him home to either Poland or Sweden.

“I will never forgive myself for not doing this,” she said.

She stated that while she received no support from the police in Poland, she received support from the people of Longford and the local gardaí, whom she described as quick and professional.

She also praised the victim support services at court, whom she described as angels, and her son’s undertaker in Longford.

“He got my boy’s remains back to Poland,” she said.

“My baby boy is gone forever,” she concluded.

I will never see him get married. His sister will never see him again. His children will never see him again… I don’t know how I will cope.

Justice White then imposed the mandatory life sentence on Lavickis, who waved at his own mother as he was led away.

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Natasha Reid

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