A man who stabbed his former partner through the heart in a planned attack in Rugby in front of their young son after luring her to their former home has been cleared of attempted murder.
But Daniel Szulc was jailed for 15 years after a jury unanimously convicted him of an alternative charge of wounding her with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The jury at Warwick Crown Court heard it was only the swift actions of her new boyfriend, paramedics and hospital staff that saved Karolina Kascian’s life after the violent stabbing.
Szulc (38) of Arnold Close, Rugby, had denied attempting to murder Karolina, wounding her with intent, and also assaulting her new partner Aleksander Hordacz, of which he was cleared.
Prosecutor Daniel White had told the jury: “We say Mr Szulc attempted to murder his ex-partner Karolina Kascian on the 20th of October last year.
“The way he did it was by stabbing her with a kitchen knife, first to the upper arm, then to her chest into her heart.
“She also suffered five fractured ribs when he was then grabbing her and trying to stop her running away.”
He said Szulc and Karolina had been in a relationship for a number of years and had a six-year-old son, but separated a month or two before the incident, when she left him.
Szulc was prohibited from contacting her as a condition of bail over an alleged assault on her, but that ended when a decision not to charge him was made on October 19.
Knowing the condition to keep away from her would end, Karolina moved out of the family home in Arnold Close, after which he began bombarding her with calls and texts demanding that she return to hand him the keys.
Not wanting to see him, she left them in a spot outside the house where they previously used to leave a key, and told him she had done so.
On October 20 Karolina was out with Mr Hordacz, who was known as Oleg, when Szulc contacted her and demanded that she go round with the key so he could get into the house.
“The truth is, he didn’t need her to give him the key, because he had smashed his way in that afternoon, in any event. It was simply to lure her back to the property,” said Mr White.
He alleged Szulc planned to kill her, pointing out he had sent a message to a friend saying in Polish: “I will finish it once and for all. You know how this is going to end.”
Karolina went to the house with their son while Oleg waited round the corner in the car, so as not to antagonise Szulc.
When she went inside she saw Szulc on the sofa, and he got up and said the boy was to stay with him that night, and she agreed rather than risk a confrontation.
“But when Karolina then went to leave, he confronted her in the hallway. He still had the boy with him, and he pulled out a long black-handled kitchen knife.
“Without any warning he stabbed her to the left upper arm, going into the bicep.
“She turned and tried to run away, but it was plunged into her chest and into her heart through her ribcage, and at that stage she remembers the boy shouting in Polish ‘Stop dad, no.’”
Karolina ran screaming from the house, with the knife still in her chest, but he grabbed her from behind with such force that he broke five of her ribs as he dragged her back inside.
Fortunately Oleg had heard her and her son screaming, and ran to her rescue, exchanging blows with Szulc as Karolina managed to get out of the house.
She pulled the knife out, causing an ‘almost immediate deterioration,’ and as she collapsed to the ground, Oleg, who had no phone on him, banged on a neighbour’s door shouting for help.
Off-duty police officer Ruth Morris went to her aid and called for an ambulance and, tended by paramedics, Karolina was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry where she underwent an emergency life-saving operation, said Mr White.
After the jury had returned their verdicts, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed: “It was a wound to the heart and would have killed her but for the intervention of the ambulance service.”
And Peter Cooper, defending, conceded: “It was an injury which was serious, even in the context of this offence. There is evidence of a significant degree of premeditation.”
Judge Lockhart told Szulc: “Your actions nearly deprived your and her son of his mother. He witnessed a terrible incident when you sought to attack his mother with a knife.
“It was the skill of the emergency services and the skill of the surgeons which saved her life, and she has been left with a huge disfiguring scar to her chest because doctors had to fight to save her by opening her chest.
“Any sensible man would have stepped back and accepted the end of the relationship, but you chose a sinister course. You planned to attack her, and made arrangements so to do.”
Szulc had claimed in court that Karolina had got injured accidentally after he fought with Oleg, who he claimed had turned up with a weapon – which the judge said he rejected.
He told Szulc: “You had formed a settled intent to attack her that night. This was a plan to attack the mother of your child in the presence of that child, a chilling plan which you carried out. Only a very significant sentence of imprisonment can be justified.”
After sentencing Szulc, Judge Lockhart added: “I commend Aleksander Hordacz, the police officer and other members of the public offering first aid, the paramedics, the Accident and Emergency staff receiving this young woman, who undoubtedly would have died if it had not been for their actions, and the surgeons and operating theatre staff at University Hospital, and the officer in the case and the investigating officers.”