A Polish national has avoided jail for the false imprisonment of a man who was eventually murdered.
Symon Tarkowski (28 ) of Church Hill, Tullamore, Co Offaly pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the false imprisonment of Patryk Krupa (23 ) at Bogganfin in Athlone, County Roscommon, and of withholding information between June 20 and 21, 2014.
Polish-born Mr Krupa drowned in the Shannon outside Athlone while incapacitated with a head injury from a violent assault on June 20, 2014.
In April of this year, Leszek Sychulec (34 ), a Polish cage fighter with an address at Drinan, Ballymahon, Co Longford, and Andrzej Gruchacz (35 ) with an address in Warsaw, Poland were found guilty of Mr Krupa’s murder. They were sentenced to life imprisonment on June 13 by Mr Justice Tony Hunt at the Central Criminal Court.
On Monday this week, Mr Justice Hunt said that Tarkowski’s culpability was “considerably different” to the other two individuals and the real question was what approach he should now take with “those differences”.
“I’m told that Mr Tarkowski did not set out on the day with harm in mind in relation to Mr Krupa, which is a clear distinction from the other two men who set out to do harm to him. Mr Tarkowski was not part of that enterprise and plan,” he said.
The court heard that Tarkowski was “going about his normal business” and was in a restaurant with his girlfriend when he received a call from Mr Sychulec who was a “person of violent disposition”. He added that the same observation can be made about Mr Gruchacz.
The judge said that Tarkowski was not associated with the two men when they set about looking for Mr Krupa.
“He received a telephone call and was asked to come to a particular scene. The assistance he lent to the false imprisonment was driving his car around various locations with Mr Krupa. That was his level of involvement,” said Mr Justice Hunt.
The court heard there were “clear distinctions” between Tarkowski’s behaviour and the two men previously convicted of murder.
“There was no plan to do harm to Mr Krupa, Tarkowski was under the influence of a person, and Inspector Aidan Minnock of Athlone Garda Station accepts in those circumstances that he would have been out of his depth,” said the judge.
Mr Justice Hunt also agreed that the accused may not have appreciated the severity of what he was getting himself involved in.
“At the scene he did not get out of the car and did not participate in beating the deceased man. It should also be noted that afterwards he went back to the place he was summoned from and only then did the news of Mr Krupa’s death filter through,” he added.
The court heard that Tarkowski has no previous convictions, was not known to gardaí previously, and had been working in Ireland for a lengthy period of time.
Mr Justice Hunt said the accused made a “very unwise decision” when he cleaned out his car and this was a “serious error of judgement on his part”.
However, upon arrest he was “extremely cooperative” and of “considerable assistance” to gardaí in helping a successful prosecution take place.
The judge said the fact that he quickly realised the error of his ways and made amends was a significant mitigating factor in the case. The court also heard that Tarkowski has expressed genuine remorse.
Mr Justice Hunt said that while one must obviously consider a custodial sentence, the limited nature of Tarkowski’s involvement in the case and the mitigating factors outweighed the necessity of imposing one. He imposed a suspended sentence of five years to run concurrently on each count.
“You are very lucky I take the view that you became involved in this at the behest of somebody else. A suspended sentence is not something that simply allows you to walk out of here. If you don’t grab this with both hands I will impose the sentence in full. Two men have gone to prison for life and I don’t think this man is in the same category,” he concluded.