A four-year-old boy died after his mother and step-father locked him in a home-made prison cell and starved him until he resembled a “concentration camp victim”, a court heard.
Magdalena Luczak, 27, and her partner Mariusz Krezolek, 33, are accused of subjecting Daniel Pelka to “incomprehensible cruelty” and even force-feeding him SALT.
A court heard the youngster’s emaciated body was found by paramedics at the couple’s home in Coventry, West Mids., weighing just 1.5st (10kg) – 15lbs (7kg) below average.
Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at University Hospital Coventry on March 3 last year.
Prosecutor Jonas Hankin QC told a jury the state of the boy’s tiny body had left child death experts “shocked.”
Birmingham Crown Court heard police discovered a tiny cell at a house where the Polish pair had trapped the terrified youngster.
Officers found that the inside doorknob had been removed so the door could only be opened from outside, and also discovered a young child’s hand marks where it should have been.
Yesterday (Mon) the pair went on trial charged with murder and causing or allowing the death of a child.
Opening the case, Mr Hankin said: “Daniel was subjected to a campaign of incomprehensible and escalating cruelty.
“When paramedics arrived they found Daniel lying on his back on a bed with Krezolek trying to resuscitate him through chest compressions.
“He was pronounced dead at hospital at 3.15am on March 3.
“Daniel’s body was described as shockingly thin by doctors and an expert in child deaths said a lay person would compare it to a child starving in a concentration camp in the Second World War.”
Mr Hankin told the court that Luczak had eventually told police her partner had beaten Daniel and force-fed him salt.
But phone records showed that she had sent messages to Krezolek talking about knocking Daniel unconscious by drowning him in the bath.
Mr Hankin read to the jury the series of text messages between the pair.
One sent by Krezolek read: “Take him to the room and lock him there. You will have some peace, then wait for me.”
At around 4pm on the day before the toddler was found, Krezolek wrote: “He’ll get over it by tomorrow.
“There’s no point to call the ambulance as that will cause proper problems.”
In another Luczak wrote: “Well now he is unconscious as I nearly drowned him in the bath.
“He is in bed covered in the duvet asleep and I am having my quiet time.”
A few minutes later she added: “If I hear him whine when he wakes up them he is going back to the bath. I didn’t let the water out.”
Mr Hankin added: “Detective Inspector Hansen, who lead the investigation, described the body as ‘grotesquely thin’.
“A CT scan of the body revealed a right-sided subdural heamatoma which would have caused brain damage.”
Jurors heard that several doctors had all noticed a bruise in the middle of his forehead as well as ones on each shoulder and his back.
Police initially let the pair go home from the hospital, before a full examination of the body revealed the true horror of his injures, the court heard.
Mr Hankin continued: “DI Hansen returned to the house with a forensic officer. There where air fresheners on all the downstairs rooms.
“In a store cupboard they discovered a stained mattress wedged in.
“Upstairs there was no sign of a bedroom for Daniel, in the small room, which I shall call the box room.
“The carpet was damp to the touch and the door was adapted so that when shut it could not be opened from the inside.
“There were palm prints on the door on the inside in the area where a child would expect the doorknob to be.
“In the room when they arrived was an old television, a child’s bike and some clean clothes.
“They realised the room had been used as a cell for him.”
The jury heard Daniel had been well-liked by both teachers and pupils at his school.
However he was soon seen stealing fruit from a basket in the school canteen, and eventually began taking food from other children’s lunch boxes.
Mr Hankin told the jury that the boy had been taken to hospital with a broken arm in January, a day after the injury had been sustained.
Despite suspicions being raised, there was no evidence it hadn’t been a result of an accident.
The pair deny both charges.
The case continues