Marcin Zdun’s ‘controlling’ personality assessed in court

A father-of-three who is accused of murdering his wife and daughter at their home in Salisbury told a doctor that the two of them had “destroyed him mentally”, a court heard. 

In the months before the incident on Wessex Road, Marcin Zdun, 40, had been struggling with his mental health. He had been drinking and not sleeping properly. 

He felt his wife Aneta, also 40, and daughter Nikoleta, 18, who died from catastrophic injuries on June 1, were “destroying his marriage”. 

He believed his wife was cheating on him with a colleague of his who also worked at the Tesco store on Southampton Road and thought everyone at work knew about the affair and was making fun of him, jurors heard.  

Zdun is standing trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with two counts of murder which he has previously denied. The defence argues he was experiencing “delusional thoughts” at the time of the killings which support the defence of diminished responsibility.

Today, December 10, the jury heard evidence from a consultant forensic psychiatrist instructed by the prosecution who assessed the defendant on October 10. 

Previous suicide attempt 

Giving evidence via video link, Dr Frank Farnham told the court that 15 years ago, when he and his wife still lived in Poland, Zdun had tried to take his own life. 

Back then, Aneta was travelling for her studies and Zdun had suspicions she had been seeing other men. Aneta always denied this, jurors heard. 

When they moved to England in 2008, Zdun told Dr Farnham that “things were very good” but his concerns about Aneta’s infidelity “worsened over time”. 

The court heard Zdun would often check Aneta’s phone and expect her to tell him where she was going whenever she was leaving the house. 

The community support worker used to say she was going to work, but Zdun felt that “that was her cover, she was supposed to be going to work but there would be no extra money”. 

Problems at work 

Zdun’s conviction that his wife was cheating on him impacted the way he felt towards his colleagues. 

After coming back from a trip to Poland around March 28, Zdun noticed a new employee at Tesco, Martin Punter, whom he suspected to be having an affair with Aneta after he allegedly offered to pay for half of his shopping. 

“[Zdun said] ‘I thought he was having a relationship with my wife otherwise why would he give me half the money for the shopping? I asked my wife about it, she said she had no idea what I was talking about and she didn’t know him. I knew she was lying’,” Dr Farnham told the jury. 

The court heard that Zdun convinced himself that Aneta was “telling lies about their relationship” to the people he worked with and that his colleagues, and his managers, had stopped talking to him as a result. 

He felt he was being bullied and that Mr Punter “knew everything”, jurors heard, but he couldn’t provide evidence to back his statements, Dr Farnham said. 

Mr Punter has previously denied having a relationship with Aneta, telling the court he didn’t know her. 

Delusional thoughts or controlling personality? 

During his assessment of the defendant, Dr Farnham said Zdun told him he felt “depressed” and was “sleeping poorly”. 

Dr Farnham said: “He told me that he had nightmares that involved Martin [Punter] laughing at him.” 

After his arrest, the father-of-three spent two nights in prison but was then moved to a mental health hospital over fears he might try to take his own life. 

At the hospital, he told doctors that his wife and daughter had “destroyed everything” and had “destroyed me mentally”, jurors heard. 

Although Zdun doesn’t deny killing Aneta and Nikoleta, the court previously heard he claims to have “no recollection of what he did that afternoon”. 

What the jury will have to consider, Dr Farnham said, is whether the defendant suffers from a delusional disorder, the defence’s argument, or whether his behaviour is the result of his “controlling” personality. 

In his conclusion, Dr Farnham said: “My concern, and it’s my opinion, [is that] it’s more likely that the killing occurred in the context of long-standing possessiveness and jealousy arising from his character or personality and a desire to control the family and ultimately anger before the realisation that the marriage was over and he lost control of the family.” 

The defence argues Zdun had been experiencing “delusional thoughts” – therefore justifying the partial defence of diminished responsibility – expressed in a note written by the defendant on May 26. 

In it, Zdun reveals his unfounded belief that Mr Punter and his family were conspiring against him to get him sacked and get him to leave the country, the court heard. 

Adam Feest QC, defending, also argued that the defendant had said he was “ready to live on his own” therefore suggesting the divorce, which both he and his wife had agreed to, may not have been a significant factor leading to the killings. 

Dr Farnham accepted, under cross-examination, that it is possible Zdun’s “persecutory delusions and jealous delusions” combined with his “character defects” led to the defendant acting “in the way he did”. 

The trial continues. 

Salisbury Journal | News