Northern Ireland news

Two Co Derry teens to stand trial for the murder of homeless man Piotr Krowka

Piotr Krowka

TWO Co Derry teenagers are to stand trial over the alleged murder of a vulnerable homeless man, whose badly beaten body was discovered in a disused parochial house, almost two years ago.

Caolan Michael Johnston (18) of The Fort and Adrian Kozack (19) of Craigmore Heights, Maghera, who are jointly accused of murdering Piotr Krowka in April 2018.

Police said the 36-year-old Polish national had suffered "a violent death.”

On first appearing in court within days of the alleged incident, both were remanded in custody, with the cases split between Magherafelt Magistrates Court for Kozack and Dungannon Youth Court for Johnston, who was 17 at the time of arrest.

A detective inspector explained Mr Krowka was last seen alive at about 9pm on March 31 2018, when he was followed by a person, believed to be Kozack. Some sort of scuffle or confrontation occurred, and Kozack ran off, seeking assistance from others congregating in the area, one of whom is believed to have been Johnston.

Police found Mr Krowka's body on the afternoon of April 3 2018, and a post mortem revealed he suffered a violent death, caused by "blunt force trauma" to his head, chest, abdomen and left arm.

There was also evidence that a sharp weapon was used and pressure applied to his neck.

Johnston was described as a suspected member of gang calling themselves the "Maghera mafia" who had allegedly been terrorising the community with anti-social behaviour for some time.

It was decided he could be released on strict bail terms. Kozack would be granted bail at a later date.

Due to his age, Johnston’s identity was not disclosed, but that changed after he turned 18, and the case was conjoined with Kozack at Magherafelt Magistrates Court, where they stood side-by-side in the dock today, each speaking only to confirm they understood the charge.

Judge Oonagh Mullan remanded Johnston and Kozak on bail to appear for arraignment at Derry Crown Court next month.

The judge agreed to relax Kozak’s bail terms reducing daily signing with police to three times per week, to accommodate his employment.

All other conditions remain, as do those for Johnston.

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