A man who murdered his estranged wife then spent almost four days in a room with her body before trying to take his own life has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years and four months.
Marta Chmielecka was found dead in the Kettering address of Pawel Chmielecki on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, after her concerned family contacted Northamptonshire Police.
They explained they hadn’t seen Marta since the previous Friday, October 15, and she had failed to arrive at work that morning, which was out of character for the ‘vibrant, kind’ 31-year-old.
All they had heard from her was a text message which read like someone else had written it, and they were concerned Chmielecki, from whom she had separated in 2020, could be involved.
As a result, Marta’s sister-in-law went to Chmielecki’s address and called 999 after she failed to get an answer.
In light of her concerns, and aware of a history of domestic abuse against Marta by Chmielecki, police officers were sent to his rented room in Wood Street and broke down the door to find the 40-year-old lying alongside Marta’s body.
He was bleeding heavily from up to nine self-inflicted knife wounds in his neck and was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery.
On October 21, after his injuries were confirmed as non-life-threatening, Chmielecki was arrested in his hospital bed on suspicion of Marta’s murder.
Although he refused to comment in interview, at Northampton Crown Court on March 3, 2022, he admitted killing her.
The investigation into Marta’s death, run by detectives from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), uncovered a picture of a jealous, controlling man who had stalked, made threats and had been violent to Marta since the end of their relationship.
On Friday, October 15, Marta had spent the evening socialising with friends in Woodlands Court, before leaving on foot at around 10.40pm.
CCTV from the area revealed she encountered Chmielecki in neighbouring Wood Street, and indicated some sort of struggle between them, with Marta ending up on the floor.
Afterwards she was visibly unsteady on her feet, with Chmielecki at one point appearing to hold her up in a bear-hug as they approached his home.
Chmielecki later admitted he had stabbed her to death in his room after confronting her about her forming new relationships.
A post-mortem showed Marta had suffered 32 sharp force injuries – seven to her right hand, five to her shoulders and upper arm, one to the left breast and 19 to her face and neck. A combination of the stab wounds to her neck were the direct cause of her death.
Further CCTV analysis of his movements between the night Marta entered his room and the day her body was discovered showed Chmielecki going out to buy cans of beer and a soft drink before returning to his address.
At Northampton Crown Court today, Wednesday, September 6, Chmielecki was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years and four months.
This was reduced by the time he has spent on remand to 16 years and 170 days, after which the Parole Board can consider if he is able to be released. If he is released, Chmielecki will remain on licence for the rest of his life.
Sentencing, His Honour Judge David Herbert said: “It’s clear from the evidence that Marta was scared of you and was frightened you would end up killing her.
“Those last moments of her life would have been utterly terrifying, as you stabbed her repeatedly in the neck. You accept you intended to kill her and must then have watched her die lying in a pool of her own blood.
“The only sentence that can be imposed for the offence of murder is life imprisonment, and that is what I impose on you.”
Speaking afterwards, Detective Superintendent Joe Banfield, who led the Northants Major Crime Unit at the time of the investigation, said: “Marta Chmielecka was a much-loved young woman looking forward to a bright future, which was extinguished by the violent actions of a jealous man.
“Pawel Chmielecki did not want to accept the end of his relationship with Marta, and remained in contact with her despite her attempts to distance herself from him.
“Tragically for Marta, Chmielecki’s efforts to maintain a hold over her culminated in his ferocious fatal attack, after which he stayed with her body in his room for almost four days, before he attempted to take his own life as police arrived.
“Throughout our investigation, Chmielecki refused to cooperate and despite his admission of murder, attempted to control the court process by initially denying he had previously been physically abusive towards Marta.
“For the sake of her loving family, who remain devastated by her death, I am glad Chmielecki now accepts his guilt on this as well, and I’m pleased to see him receive this significant prison term.
“Nothing can bring Marta back, or alleviate the pain of her loss, but I hope her loved ones and friends can take some small comfort from knowing the man responsible has been brought to account for his awful crime.”
Marta’s family expressed their thanks to Northamptonshire Police and the EMSOU investigative team, with special praise for their family liaison officer, Detective Constable Rachael Harris.
They added: “We are very happy with the way the police have handled things, and we want to thank Rachael especially because she has really looked after us so well, through the worst moments of our lives. She has helped us get through the whole thing.”