Tribute to Jersey stabbing victims

The families of six people, including three young children, who were killed in a frenzied knife attack have paid tribute to their loved ones after their killer was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

Damian Rzeszowski armed himself with kitchen knives and stabbed his father-in-law Marek Gartska, 56, wife Izabela Rzeszowska, 30, daughter Kinga, five, and two-year-old son Kacper, at their Jersey home on August 14 last year.

The 31-year-old Polish builder also turned on his wife's friend, Marta De La Haye, 34, and her five-year-old daughter Julia, who were at the house for a barbecue. Rzeszowski was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter through diminished responsibility at the Royal Court in the Channel Island's capital St Helier.

In a statement issued to the Press Association, Mrs De La Haye's husband and Julia's father said the verdict was an insult to the victims. He said: "I am deeply shocked and disgusted at the verdict of manslaughter. I feel that justice has not been done. It is an insult to the victims of this horrendous crime."

Rzeszowski's defence had argued that he was suffering severe depression and psychotic hallucinations which substantially impaired his responsibility when the attacks happened. But the prosecution said he had originally told psychiatrists he had not heard voices and that he could remember attacking his father-in-law, picking up kitchen knives and chasing his wife into the street.

The court heard that Rzeszowski's marriage had been under strain after his wife confessed to a two-month affair with another man. Rzeszowski claims that on the day of the killings he heard voices which said "Kill, kill" and cannot remember the attacks.

Izabela Rzeszowska and Marek Gartska's family said that they had been "devastated by an enormous tragedy". Izabela's mother Jolanta Gartska, brother Krzysztof Gartska and sister-in-law Agnieszka Gartska, said in a statement that the tragedy was even worse because they had lost children and grandchildren.

Wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, Rzeszowski showed no emotion in the dock as the presiding judge, Sir Michael Birt, read out the verdicts that two jurats - similar to magistrates in the UK - had reached after three and a half hours of deliberation.

His attack was so brutal that he severed his father-in-law's spinal cord before running after his wife and knifing her in front of horrified neighbours. Afterwards he turned the knife on himself, causing a collapsed lung.

He was taken to Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital but returned to Jersey for his trial. Judge Birt, who is the Bailiff of Jersey, said Rzeszowski would be sentenced at the Royal Court for manslaughter on October 29.