This is why judge sentenced Marcin Zdun to life in prison

Marcin Zdun has been sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and daughter at their Salisbury home.

The Tesco worker will serve a minimum of 34 years behind bars, less the period of 198 days he has already spent in prison or hospital.

At the end of the two-week trial at Winchester Crown Court, Mr Justice Chamberlain set out the facts he was “sure of” having heard all the evidence.

He then went on to explain his conclusions and the reasons for imposing a life sentence with a minimum of 34 years.

Main article continues below.

How Salisbury murder trial unfolded

Was it premeditated?

One of the factors the judge had to decide was whether the attack was premeditated.

After “carefully” considering Zdun’s intentions when he returned to the family home on June 1, the judge concluded he “cannot be sure” that by then, the defendant had already decided to kill his wife and daughter.

He said: “Although you had your passport, that could have been there since your last trip to Poland, along with the other documents form that trip.

“Although you had money, it was no more than you usually took out after being paid your monthly salary and there was money left in your account.

“So, I am therefore not sure that you were intending to flee the country after the killings. I therefore sentence you on the basis that you formed the intention to kill in anger, shortly after you arrived at 23 Wessex Road.”

He continued: “I cannot say that each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning. This is therefore not a case in which a whole life minimum term is appropriate.

“The starting point is 30 years, because you murdered two people. But this is only a starting point.”

Were there any mitigating factors?

Zdun’s defence argued that at the time of the murders, the 40-year-old suffered an abnormality of mental functioning, caused by a recognised medical condition, which affected his ability to form a rational judgement.

However, this argument was rejected by the jury who convicted Zdun of murder as opposed to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

His claim he did not remember the murders was “a lie” the judge said, therefore “mental health difficulties provide very little mitigation for what you did”, Zdun was told.

The other mitigating factor was the absence of previous convictions or cautions.

However, the judge said: “… that factor is of very little weight because of your previous violence against Aneta and Nikoleta, for which you have never been convicted, but which I have found established to the criminal standard.”

What about aggravating factors?

Mr Justice Chamberlain mentioned eight “aggravating features”.

  1. A knife was used in a “sustained and brutal” attack. A very large number of injuries was inflicted on each of the two victims.
  2. The attacks took place inside and immediately outside the family home where Aneta, Nikoleta and the two younger children were “entitled to feel safe”.
  3. This was no longer the defendant’s home though he was allowed to visit because his children lived there. The judge said: “As a father, it was your responsibility to protect and nurture those children. You were in a position of trust. It is difficult to conceive of a more complete betrayal of that trust than what you did.”
  4. Aneta and Nikoleta each knew before she died that the other had been seriously injured. “That knowledge,” the judge said, “must surely have added to the distress and fear they felt as you attacked them.”
  5. The attacks took place in broad daylight and were witnessed by several onlookers who happened to be nearby.
  6. The defendant “falsely claimed amnesia… to avoid criminal responsibility for murder”.
  7. The most important factor: Zdun murdered his wife and daughter in front of his younger kids. The judge told him: “Your method could not have been calculated to be more cruel to them.”
  8. The victim impact statements from Aneta’s parents.

After passing his sentence, the judge paid tribute to the “bravery” of the neighbours and workmen who, on the day of the murders, rescued Zdun’s younger children and restrained the defendant until the arrival of the police.

Salisbury Journal | News