Channel Island in grief over Polish killings

18th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Polish community on the Channel Island of Jersey united with other residents at a memorial service on Thursday to remember the six victims of a rampaging knifeman.

Izabela Rzeszowski, 30, and her children Kinga, six, and two-year-old Kasper, are believed to have been stabbed to death by her husband Damian, 30.

He is also believed to have killed his wife's father Marek Garstki and her friend Marta de la Haye, 34, and five-year-old daughter Julia during the attack in St Helier, the capital of the picturesque island, on Sunday.

Reports say the knifeman had tried to kill himself last month because of problems in his relationship with his wife.

A requiem mass in English and partly in Polish was taking place at a church in St Helier.

The deaths have rocked an island which has relatively little crime and where the last murder was in 2004. Police have described it as one of the safest places in the Western world.

Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull, who is leading the investigation into the killings, said he was hoping to meet the victims' families over the next few days.

"We cannot begin to imagine exactly what the relatives and friends of these two young families must be going through at the present time, but we can all be conscious of how difficult and traumatic it is, and I would ask that they be allowed the time and dignity to be able to grieve in peace," he said.

"There is also a great deal of rumour and speculation about what has happened here and that can only cause the relatives even more distress, so I appeal to everyone to allow our investigation to follow the evidence to establish the exact sequence of events."

Police are still waiting to question Rzeszowski, who is in a stable condition under police guard in hospital following surgery for knife wounds.

Neighbours in the flats where the attacks happened described how they fended off the "mumbling" knifeman with a traffic cone as he pursued one of the women before he turned the weapon on himself.

Another witness saw the two little girls' bodies being carried out of the flats.

Jersey, which lies around 22 kilometres (14 miles) off the coast of northern France, is home to around 90,000 people and its Polish population has swelled to more than 5,000 in recent years.

The island used to have a predominantly agriculture-based economy, but is now a major offshore financial services centre.

© 2011 AFP

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