17 May 2022

Committal date fixed for teenagers accused of homeless man's murder

A committal date has been fixed to transfer the case of two Maghera teenagers charged with murder to the crown court.

Piotr Krowka

A committal date has been fixed to transfer the case of two Maghera teenagers charged with murder to the crown court.

Caolan Michael Johnston, 18, of The Fort, and Adrian Kozack, 19, of Craigmore Heights, are both accused of murdering Piotr Krowka in April 2018.

The body of the thirty-six-year-old Polish national was discovered in a former parochial house, having suffered was described as a violent death.

On first appearing in court 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 bail application followed in which police strongly opposed Johnston’s release, describing what is alleged to have occurred as "a sustained, violent, assault causing the victim's death". A detective inspector explained Mr Krowka was last seen alive at about 9pm on 31 March 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 3 April, 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 been terrorising the community with anti-social behaviour for some time.

It was decided Johnston could be released on strict terms including residence with his parents, a curfew from 9pm to 7am, electronical tagging and refraining from drugs and alcohol. Kozack would be granted bail at a later date.

With both accused now appearing together at Magherafelt Magistrates Court, it was initially thought their case was almost ready to be transferred December but a number of adjournments followed.

At the most recent sitting the court was told a date of March 4 has now been agreed. District Judge Oonagh Mullan remanded Johnston and Kozak on continuing bail to appear on that date when it is expected they will be returned for trial.

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