Central Criminal Court
A murder accused described how he lay down beside his wife's body for "10 to 15 minutes" after he strangled her to death, the deceased's sister has told a Central Criminal Court trial.
Magdalena McMorrow also said that the accused man Rafal Karaczyn repeatedly lied to her in the immediate aftermath of her sister's death, maintaining that he didn't know what had happened to her and then telling her that Natalia had gotten on the wrong side of a Traveller family and that he found her dead in her bedroom.
Four days after his wife's death Mr Karaczyn, who had been arrested after bringing gardai to her body, told gardai he wanted to speak to Ms McMorrow. When she went to Ballymote Garda Station, Mr Karaczyn told her, "I did it."
Ms McMorrow said he described to her how he was awakened that Sunday morning by the front door slamming and, "he followed her into the room and asked her 'where have you been?' and she said, 'it's none of your business' and told him to get out. He entered again and she slapped him and he grabbed her and he strangled her."
The witness recalled Mr Karaczyn telling her that he lay beside his wife for ten to fifteen minutes before putting her body in his car and driving her away. Ms McMorrow also recalled telling Mr Karaczyn that he had killed Natalia with his hands but his "mind and body weren't there," when he strangled her. She told him she forgave him and he said he would never forgive himself.
The trial also heard from Gvido Ozols who said he had sex with Ms Karaczyn at his home on the morning she died. He walked her home at about 6am.
Rafal Karaczyn (35), of Crozon Park, Sligo, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old wife Natalia Karaczyn at their family home in Crozon Park between April 29th, 2018 and May 1st, 2018.
Ms McMorrow told prosecution counsel Conor Devally SC that she is Natalia's elder sister by four years. Ms McMorrow moved to Ireland from Poland in 2006 and encouraged her sister to follow and she did so, with Mr Karaczyn and their children, in 2014.
Natalia got a job right away in a local garage shop and deli while Mr Karaczyn, a mechanic, got a job a few months later. The sisters were close and would speak every day and meet up most days. They had matching tattoos on their wrists.
About one year before Natalia died she had started sleeping in a separate bedroom from her husband. On one occasion Mr Karaczyn confided in Magdalena that Natalia wanted to leave him. The witness said: "I advised him to move out because I thought that would be the better option but he said he won't because he wants to make it work and he won't leave her."
Natalia had begun socializing without her husband and would go out most weekends with a group of friends. Ms McMorrow knew her sister was going out that Saturday night and at 9.23am the following morning she received a text from Mr Karaczyn asking: "Do you know where Natalia is?"
Ms McMorrow told him she would contact her sister's friends and reassured him that "everything is ok" and that she was probably having a sleepover. She became anxious when none of Natalia's friends could say where she was. She started crying and left work early to look for her, staying in regular contact with Mr Karaczyn who she said appeared also to be searching for Natalia. Ms McMorrow rang hospitals and went to a garda station with a photograph of Natalia.
She said: "I just felt, my sister had never done that. There was no occasion when she failed to turn up for her kids in the morning."
As the morning went on Mr Karaczyn texted Ms McMorrow saying: "Damn, I'm getting nervous." She met Mr Karaczyn at his house to search for Natalia. They looked in wardrobes and under tables and beds, under a shed and under trampolines in the garden. Mr Karaczyn was "very stiff and anxious", she said, and before she left she gave him a hug. She said: "He was extremely stiff and I just left and as I was driving off I could see in the mirror that he was looking in the bushes."
Ms McMorrow learned that her sister had been with Mr Ozols in the Garavogue pub in Sligo the night before. Mr Ozols told her he had left Natalia home at about 6am. Ms McMorrow went to the Crozon Inn, near her sister's home, where staff allowed her to check CCTV which showed Mr Ozols leaving Natalia about 50 yards from her home and walking in the opposite direction.
She told Mr Karaczyn what she had seen on the CCTV and said to him: "Tell me if anything happened." He said, "no nothing, she just never came home." She believed him, she said.
Mr Karaczyn was arrested that night at about 10pm and before gardai took him away he said to Ms McMorrow: "I'm not a murderer."
Mr Karaczyn was released from custody the following day and Ms McMorrow went to see him at a friend's house. He was sitting in a corner shivering, with his head in his hands. He was crying, he couldn't speak much, but he told her that Natalia had got on the wrong side of a Traveler family who came to his house and threatened him and his children. He said that they told him to leave a window open in the kitchen on the Saturday night and when he got up on Sunday he found her dead body in the bedroom. He told her he was afraid it would be "pinned on him" so he removed the body. She called gardai and he brought them to her body.
Mr Karaczyn was again arrested and at about 4pm on the Wednesday afternoon Ms McMorrow went to Ballymote Garda Station where he told her he had strangled his wife.
Ms McMorrow agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC that the accused had lied repeatedly after killing her sister and despite the increasing levels of anxiety she and others were feeling, he maintained that he didn't know what happened to her.
She further agreed that she was supportive of her brother-in-law throughout because she "had a lot of time for him." She said she also felt sorry for him. He had a very difficult family background, she said, and was utterly devoted to his children and "totally in love" with Natalia. "He worshipped the ground on which she walked," she said. She further agreed that her sister had fallen out of love and had decided about a year before her death that the marriage was over. She agreed that he had great difficulty accepting that and believed the relationship would get better. She said her sister felt he should "get over it" and had started living a single life.
At the garda station after Mr Karaczyn told her what happened, she told him to be strong for the kids and that "it wasn't him that did it". He replied: "It was my hands" and she said: "Yes, by your hands but your mind and body weren't there." She told him she forgave him and he said he would never forgive himself.
She said she found it hard to believe he could have done it.
Mr Ozols told Mr Devally that he had never been intimate with Natalia before that night. He met her in the Garavogue and they took a taxi to his house at about 4am. They had sex twice, he said, and then he walked her home at about 6am.
The trial continues on Monday in front of Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of eight women and four men.
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