Dad buried in shallow grave near Flatts Lane woodland had suffered multiple injuries, court told

A Middlesbrough dad had suffered a broken back, a broken upper jaw and 15 fractured ribs before being buried in a shallow grave, a court has heard.

Tomasz Dembler, 39, suffered injuries including cuts to his lips and mouth, severe bruising to his head, and all over his back and chest.

A post mortem found that it is likely he had been repeatedly kicked and stamped on and that the injuries to his neck may have been caused by pressure from his attacker’s arm.

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On Monday, Teesside Crown Court heard that a Home Office pathologist’s report found that Tomasz Dembler’s injuries would likely have impaired the use of his lower body.

The report found hypostasis had set in before Mr Dembler was buried; and that his hands were probably cut off after he had died.

Five people are standing trial at Teesside Crown Court after denying the murder of Tomasz Dembler.

They are:

  • Zbigniew Pawlowski, 41, of Leven Street, Newport, Middlesbrough
  • Rafal Chmielewski, 37, of Birchington Avenue, Grangetown
  • Adam Czerwinski, 45, of Edward St, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough
  • Tomasz Reczycki, 37, of Ashfield Avenue, Grove Hill, Middlesbrough
  • Monika Solerska, 37, of Birchington Avenue, Grangetown

The prosecution say that Tomasz was killed in the hours after 3.35am on Sunday March 21 – sometime after he answered a phone call from a friend, asking him for a lift.

The dad – who was separated from his partner – told his friend that he was at a party in Middlesbrough, and could not help her.

But Peter Makepeace QC, told the court that Mr Dembler died that morning; his hands were severed from his body, and he was buried the next day, in a shallow grave near Flatts Lane Country Park in Normanby.

The prosecution played CCTV footage showing six separate journeys that some of the accused made between Mr Dembler’s house on Edward Street and Flatts Lane, after they are accused of murdering him.

The first journeys, Mr Makepeace told the jury, were reconnaissance trips to see where they could dispose of the body.



Police search woodland near Flatts Lane Country Park

Mr Dembler’s body was found weeks later on April 12, by two girls who were having a makeshift picnic in the woods. They saw his toes in the ground and called the police.

On Monday afternoon, the court heard that some of the accused are blaming each other.

Mr Makepeace told the jury that Chmielewski will claim that he saw Zbigniew Pawlowski beat Mr Dembler to death and that Pawlowski threatened him with a gun to his head, when he wanted to call an ambulance.

Chmielewski claims, Mr Makepeace continued, that Pawlowski cut off Mr Dembler’s hands and put them into a suitcase.

The prosecution say that Chmielewski’s girlfriend, Monika Solerska- the only women to be accused – claims she was upstairs in Edward Street on the night of the alleged party, and that she was unaware of anything that happened. Solerska- who the prosecution say is captured on CCTV driving her Mercedes up Ormesby Bank to the burial site on Sunday March 21, claims that the journey was a social one.

The prosecution told a silent court that Adam Czerwinski last saw Mr Dembler in his downstairs bedroom, in the small terraced house that he shared with him and others, and that Mr Dembler was with Pawlowski.

Like Chmielewski, the prosecution say that Tomasz Reczycki will claim he saw Pawlowski beat up Mr Dembler and that he was too scared to intervene.

The court heard that Pawlowski’s defense will say that he left Edward Street at 11pm that night and knew nothing of a murder.

Tomasz Dembler moved to the UK 20 years ago from Poland. His life took a downward spiral after he split up from the mother of his child, and he moved to Middlesbrough – taking a room in Adam Czerwinski’s rented terraced home – where the prosecution say he was murdered.

Peter Makepeace told the court that Tomasz had grown apart from his family, who found his drinking and illicit drug use hard to accept. His last message to his mother in Poland, read “leave me alone”.

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