Jealous husband who beat his wife, 37, to death is jailed for 21 years (2024)

A jealous husband who beat his wife to death with an axe before calmly sitting down to watch television has been jailed for 21 years today.

Rafal Winiarski, 42, was probably suffering from 'paranoid psychosis and delusions of jealousy' when he killed Malgorzata Lechanska, 37, at their home in Lake Close, Shipdham, Norfolk, in 2021, a court was told.

Police raced to the scene at 1.30pm on August 1 when a neighbour raised the alarm after hearing a man shouting and a woman screaming, while a young girl was also seen outside the house 'looking distressed'.

Officers arrived at the semi-detached home to find Ms Lechanska collapsed on the floor, not breathing. She was later found to have suffered17 wounds, including multiple fractures to the skull.

Meanwhile, Winiarski was found sat on the sofa in the lounge staring at the TV, which was switched on. The couple's young daughter was unharmed and outside the house with the neighbour who raised the alarm.

At Norwich Crown Court, Winiarski was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter and was ordered to serve an additional four years on licence.

Rafal Winiarski, 42,beat his wife to death with an axe before calmly sitting down to watch television. He has been jailed for 21 years today

Malgorzata Lechanska, 37, was beaten to death by Winiarski at their home in Lake Close, Shipdham, Norfolk, on August 1, 2021

Mother-of-two Ms Lechanska who worked at the Center Parcs holiday village in Elveden, Suffolk, was declared dead at the scene by a paramedic, and an axe was found near her body.

Winiarski was arrested at the scene and taken to the Police Investigation Centre at Wymondham for questioning.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Winiarski used an axe and a knife in the attack which left his wife with 17 wounds included fractures to the skull, consistent with axe chopping.

Ms Lechanska also had multiple defensive wounds from where she had tried to fend him off in their kitchen.

The killing happened minutes after she had returned from a shopping trip and as their seven-year-old daughter was playing in the garden.

Winiarski had to be restrained in court in shocking scenes as he attempted to cut his own wrists after being sentenced.

He initially denied his wife's murder and was due to stand trial, before his guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and loss of control was accepted by the prosecution.

Judge Anthony Bate said it had been a 'wicked and brutal assault' in which he had 'ferociously attacked her with two weapons'.

He added: 'It is clear that you intended to kill her. This was not a spontaneous attack.

'You pose a significant risk to the public, especially any future partners.'

The court heard that Winiarski's mental condition meant that his 'rational judgement had been significantly impaired'.

He and his wife met in Poland when they were aged 19 and moved to the UK with their two young daughters in 2014.

Police at the scene after Malgorzata Lechanska was axed to death by her husband Rafal Winiarski, 42, at their home in Shipdham, Norfolk

Prosecutor Riel Karmy Jones KC, said his actions had been driven by the obsession that his wife was having affairs and that he was a 'suspicious and controlling man'

Police discovered he had installed covert cameras inside the family home and had nailed the windows closed.

The couple's older daughter, who was at work at the time of her mother's death, had described previous violent incidents including her father making threats with a knife.

His history of mental health issues had been exacerbated by drink and drug misuse and he had become 'increasingly unstable' after not taking medication, said Ms Karmy-Jones.

In a statement she read out in court, his older daughter said she felt he had been repeatedly 'failed by the system'.

She added: 'My father had been mentally unstable for years and my mother and I had tried to help all we could.

'We all loved him and wanted the best for him, but due to his reluctance to see a doctor no doctor or police officer would help us.'

The court heard that Winiarski had changed out of his bloodied clothes before sitting on the sofa staring at the TV having with his wife's body on the kitchen floor.

A blood stained axe was discovered on the worktop and a knife with the tip missing was on the floor.

Ms Karmy-Jones said: 'The force used to kill her can only be described as brutal.'

In interviews following his arrest, Winiarski initially claimed it was his wife who had become increasingly aggressive.

He claimed he had not intended to kill her but had become angry due to her behaviour and that had believed she had posted 'bad things' about him online, the court was told.

Andrew Spence, defending, said he had been 'substantially impaired' due to a complex mental history and had been suffering from 'morbid jealousy'.

One of the prosecution experts had concluded it was 'more likely than not' that Winiarski was suffering from 'paranoid psychosis and delusions of jealousy' relating to his wife.

It meant he did not have the ability to form rational judgement thereby affecting his decision-making at the time, she said.

Ms Karmy Jones said the Crown had accepted that his illness was a 'significant contributing factor to the commission of the offence'.

Detective Inspector Alix Wright of Norfolk Police who led the investigation, said: 'This was a horrific attack by Rafal Winiarski against his wife. Malgorzata's family have shown tremendous bravery throughout the investigation.

'We are committed to targeting domestic abuse as a priority and will continue to work with partner agencies to help victims.

'We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of domestic abuse or coercive and controlling behaviour to report this to police or seek professional support.'

A spokesman for Center Parcs paid tribute to Ms Lechanska after her death, saying: 'Malgorzata was a highly regarded and popular member of the housekeeping team and she will be truly missed.'

Neighbours also described their shock at the death of the 'caring' and 'quiet' woman who loved her garden.

As well as keeping her own garden immaculate, she planted flowers and fruit trees on the edge of the green beside her house to brighten it up.

Local residents pledged to care for her trees after her death so that they would eventually grow fruit for local children to pick which was what she had wished for.

Nikita Bailey, 25, from Lake Close, added: 'She loved her garden - she was always out there. She would chop up fruit for all the children to come and eat.

'She was a lovely lady - she put her hand up all the time and smiled. She was just one of those quiet people who didn't say a lot really.'

Jealous husband who beat his wife, 37, to death is jailed for 21 years (2024)
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