Jailed: woman who killed her husband in a fit of fury
A woman who admitted the manslaughter of her husband has been jailed for two years at Belfast Crown Court.
Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice Hart said that when Teresa Rafacz (29) from Poland kicked her husband Piotr and stamped on his head, “this was the result of a momentary lapse of self-control by her in a spasm of anger” on discovering he had left their baby son home alone to go drinking.
Freeing her 27-year-old brother Pawel Czop for withholding information from police, the judge said he did not “believe any useful purpose would be served by sending him back into custody” for a short period of time.
At an earlier hearing the court had heard that Rafacz, from Glenvarlock Street, Belfast, had returned to their then Cliftonville Road flat from work on July 18, 2009 to discover Piotr lying on her bed in a drunken stupor, at least five times over the drink-driving limit, his face bloodied and cut.
She managed to get him to stagger into the hallway where he collapsed.
Rafacz, fearing her three-and-a-half-year-old son would see him, phoned her brother Powel to help her move him to the back hall, and it was then she lashed out in anger.
Mr Justice Hart said that when Rafacz went to work at 6.45am that morning she left her son in the care of her husband, an unemployed alcoholic.
He added it was accepted that while she was out working her husband had abandoned their youngster to go drinking.
Mr Justice Hart said that he accepted “that Rafacz returned home when she was tired after a long, hard day’s work to find her husband in a drunken condition”.
The judge said it was obvious, given the lack of any empty bottles in the flat, that he had left their baby son “hungry and on his own in the flat for a lengthy period of time, in all possibility several hours”.
Mr Justice Hart said that Rafacz was “understandably angry with him, and her anger was exacerabated by the previous marital disharmony between them”.
“While she undoubtedly inflicted serious harm upon her husband when she kicked him and stamped on his head when he lay on the ground, I accept this was the result of a momentary loss of control by her in a spasm of anger.”
Mr Justice Hart said that anger resulted from the fact he left their child home alone “whilst he had left the flat to go drinking, and then returned to the flat in a drunken condition when he was plainly incapable of exercising proper supervision over such a small child”.
The judge said that given the circumstances “it is proper to regard her conduct as lacking the necessary intent to kill or inflict really serious personal injury, not withstanding the severity of the kick and stamping to his head”.
However, Mr Justice Hart said that lashing out in the way she did at her drunken husband “as he lay defenceless on the ground amounted to gratuitous violence”, which was unacceptable to the courts.
He added later that this was a serious case in which “an immediate custodial sentence is inevitable”, and had she been convicted he considered the appropriate sentence would have been “in the region of eight years”.
However, taking into account her guilty plea and other mitigating circumstances, Mr Justice Hart said that he would “impose a determinate sentence of four years, of which two years will be spent in custody and two years on licence”.
However, her time served in custody will also be taken into account and the length of time she was on remand before being granted bail while awaiting trial.