A mum stabbed her 23-month-old son to death after she suffered a mental breakdown triggered by her bullying and cheating Ryanair pilot fiancé.
Former flight attendant Magda Lesicka, 33, was subjected to relentless psychological torment by Peter Chilvers, a flight captain with the budget airline, as she felt trapped in the toxic relationship, a court heard.
Lesicka, who met Chilvers while also working for the Dublin-based carrier, inflicted a sustained attack on their son, James Chilvers, at her home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, on August 26, 2017.
She tried to kill herself after knifing the boy multiple times.
Chilvers had inflicted a campaign of cruelty against Lesicka, forcing her into degrading sexual acts and into eating hairs he plucked from his head, while he had an affair with another flight attendant, Lisa Spencer, who is now his partner and mother to his two young daughters.
Lesicka, a Polish national, was jailed for 15 years last year after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, the Manchester Evening News reports.
She was sentenced on the basis that her mental illness emerged suddenly and without any warning, and she had no memory of committing the offence.
Chilvers, 33, from Northwich, Cheshire, denied any wrongdoing and subsequently went on trial at Manchester Crown Court where a jury convicted him last month of controlling or coercive behaviour.
Reporting restrictions were lifted on the case on Thursday as Chilvers was jailed for 18 months, allowing the facts to be reported for the first time.
The former couple were dealt with in separate hearings.
Chilvers, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, returned home from a flight to Tenerife in the early hours when Lesicka fell injured into his arms, the court heard.
As he rushed her to hospital he had no idea she had killed James.
Police found the toddler dead in an upstairs bedroom at the family home after concern was raised for him.
At Lesicka’s sentencing hearing in Preston in July last year, the court heard she suffered “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment”.
Chilvers was violent towards her, repeatedly threatened to kill her if she removed their son from his care, carried out bizarre acts of cruelty, isolated her from her friends and restricted her finances.
On one occasion, he squeezed her nose tightly so she couldn’t breathe.
He also nicknamed her “sheep” and referred to himself as a “sheep owner”, the court heard, while Lesicka told the jury the pilot would pick errant hairs from his forehead and force her to swallow them.
He demanded they continue to live together at a new home he bought in the Cheshire village of Wincham, jurors heard.
The pilot warned her in a “visceral” 33-minute phone call – played in court – on August 26 that she did not have the financial resources to win a custody battle and shouted: “I want James to have brothers and sisters… not a half-brother and sister with a f***ing moron that you find.”
The pilot had downloaded an app on to his mobile phone which enabled him to record his calls.
The court heard Lesicka had been planning to leave Chilvers in the days before she killed their son.
The couple had been in relationship since 2010 but Chilvers cheated on Lesicka from 2014 with another Ryanair cabin crew member.
Her fear of him was revealed in court, which heard Lesicka made internet searches about “taser UK law”, “self defence weapons UK” and “killing in self defence” in the days before James’ death. She later contacted domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid.
Lesicka phoned Greater Manchester Police and two police officers were sent to her address on August 25 where she showed them bruises to her arms and thigh.
She was informed the next day – the day of the killing – that Chilvers would be arrested after he flew back to the UK and a scared Lesicka said she did not want that to happen.
However she was told it was police policy to take positive action over such allegations.
The Crown accepted Lesicka’s defence that she killed James following a breakdown induced by the “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment” inflicted by Chilvers who had portrayed a “landscape of unending misery if she did not comply with his demands”.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Dove told Lesicka: “As a tragic, innocent victim he (James) was caught, caught between two warring parents.
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of that dispute, the last thing that should have happened was that he should have lost his life – killed by a parent.”
At Manchester Crown Court last month, Chilvers was found guilty of controlling or coercive behaviour between December 2015 and August 2017, as well as counts of common assault and damaging property.
The trial heard that Chilvers had been violent towards his partner after finding out she had had an abortion without telling him.
Rob Hall, prosecuting, told Chilvers’ trial: “(Lesicka) could not cope with being trapped in an abusive, humiliating and dishonest relationship with the father of her son.”
He said Chilvers’s intention may have been to aid any forthcoming legal proceedings over his son’s future but instead he had inadvertently confirmed his “bullying, controlling, self-centred nature”.
Lesicka had described their relationship as a “living hell”.
Chilvers told her he wanted to stay with her for their son’s sake.
Police had told Lesicka that they would arrest Chilvers on the night of August 26, 2017, once he returned home following a flight from Tenerife.
But she begged the force not to arrest him and to just log her complaint.
Lesicka killed James the night that police said they would arrest Chilvers.
Her solicitor, Timothy Roberts QC, told the court that pressure “had caused her crack”.
When she was sentenced, Mr Justice Dove told her: “James Chilvers was not quite two years old when he was brutally stabbed to death by you.
“It was a sustained attack with a knife in which multiple blows were struck whilst he was on his bed at home.
“There was no conceivable outcome other than he would be killed.
“His unique presence in the world was taken from us.
“Who knows what he might have grown up to achieve?”
Speaking of her mental illness, Lesicka’s barrister Mr Roberts said: “It was not a condition that had been previously diagnosed.
“It was not a condition that was wilfully exacerbated by the defendant.
“The significant feature of this case is this accused has never had any mental health difficulties at all in her life.
“The onset of this particular abnormality was very rapid and sudden.
“It was induced by the deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment inflicted on her by Peter Chilvers.
“It was imposed upon her repeatedly.”
Bullying pilot’s damning phone calls
These are the transcripts of the bullying pilot’s damning phone calls in the hours before Lesicka killed their son.
Chilvers told her that he would maintain custody of James if she left him, delivering a “visceral” and “demeaning” rant.
During Chilvers’ trial, Mr Hall, prosecuting, said the recordings confirmed “the bullying, controlling, self-centred nature” of the father’s behaviour towards “a ground-down Magda Lesicka”.
In one call, the pilot told his partner: “If (you try to take James away), I’m going to take you to f***ing court and I will f***ing win and there’s many f***ing reasons why I will.
“I will be living with my son… fight me on this, you won’t win.
“You haven’t got the resources, you haven’t got the support, you’ve not got anything, you’ve not got the location, you’ve got nothing.
“You will lose and then when you lose you will have set times when you can see your child that’s if you take me to court… if you walk out, you walk out on your own… its that simple, what’s it going to be?”
In another call, he said: “He’s not living with you if you take him away from me you dumb b***h, why the f***… I will never agree to not living with your son.
“I will never stop you living with your son, in fact I’ve invited him to a f***ing house, you dumb b***h.
“If you put him in the car and drive away you will be arrested and you’ll be done for abduction and if you try and take him out of the country you really will be done for abduction.
“I’ll get a court to put an order on his passport… if you try to smuggle him out of the country and you’re caught, you’ll be going to jail.
“Do you think I’m going to agree to you taking James to a different area… let’s face it, if it’s more than 10 minutes away from my house forget it… do you really want the whole life for the next decade let’s say to be this sort of battle.
“Every single day, is that what you want to put James through?
“You haven’t got the resources to fight this if you take it to court anyway and if you were to claim legal aid the amount you’d be able to get would be negligible to what I’m able to put up.
“I want James to have brothers and sisters… not a half-brother and sister with a f***ing moron that you find.”