Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Life for suitcase body murderer

A man has been given a life jail term after being found guilty of murdering his housemate and disposing of her body in a suitcase

A man has been given a life jail term after being found guilty of murdering his housemate and disposing of her body in a suitcase.

Tomasz Sobczak, 29, is said to have searched the internet for details on "how to strangle a human being" in the hours before Sylwia Ciapcinska was last seen.

The 24-year-old university graduate was captured on CCTV shopping in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on July 20 last year. Her partially-clothed body was found inside her black suitcase, which had been dumped near a river in the Washlands area of Burton, nearly two months later, on September 17.

Ms Ciapcinska, a Polish national known to her family and friends as Magda, had been living in the UK for less than a month when she was killed.

Sobczak, also from Poland, was charged with murder on August 5, before his housemate's body was found. He denied murder but was found guilty by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday. The factory worker was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years.

The trial had heard Sobczak's laptop was examined after his arrest. As well as strangulation websites, he also viewed "hardcore and explicit" pornography and researched Polish serial killers in the days before Ms Ciapcinska's death, prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC told the court. His Acer computer was found to have been used to look at a website called "Polish Serial Killers, Part Three" and to search for "what a death cell looks like", the jury heard.

Sobczak, a married father-of-two who was in debt, told other housemates Ms Ciapcinska had moved out of the house when they queried her whereabouts. His fingerprints were later discovered on a box containing some of her belongings, including her passport, which was found in the attic of his house in Ash Street, Burton.

Detective Chief Inspector Steff Lungrin, who led the murder inquiry, said: "Sobczak put Sylwia's family through weeks of torment. As evidence built against him, he refused to say where her body lay. We never discovered his motive, as he consistently denied killing Sylwia in interview."

Ms Ciapcinska, from Zdunsk Wola, near Lodz, central Poland, had recently graduated with a master's degree in psychology and teacher training from the University of Lodz. She was working for distribution company Amethyst Logistics at Fradley Park, near Lichfield, and planned to stay in the UK for 12 months to save up enough money to build a house in Poland.

In a statement, her family described her as "gorgeous, healthy, clever and well-educated", and added: "It is impossible to put into words the loss we feel. Life feels pointless without Magda."

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