21 year old waitress Monika Szmecht was stabbed, set alight, and stabbed again by jealous ex-boyfriend Anthony Clarke (27). Before succumbing to her fatal injuries, Ms Szmecht managed to crawl 150 yards to a nearby cottage and name her attacker. Two other men were involved in Ms Szmecht’s kidnap and murder, both pled to lesser charges as the trial began. Clarke’s best friend, Philip Savin (29), helped to abduct Ms Szmecht, and along with Clarke’s uncle, David Clarke (46), both obstructed the murder investigation and disposed of evidence, both receiving very light sentences for their involvement (particularly Savin, who was on the run for a £26,000 theft from a lorry. Anthony Clarke has been jailed for a minimum 25 years. Clarke’s jealousy was completely unfounded.
The Times Online (02 May 2008 )
Stabbed and set on fire, woman lived just long enough to identify killer
A jealous ex-boyfriend is expected to be jailed for life today for the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Polish waitress. Monika Szmecht had hoped to make a new life in Britain but died at the hands of Anthony Clarke.
Clarke, 27, had kept her caged in the back of his van for four hours before driving to a remote spot, where he stabbed her repeatedly, doused her with petrol and set her alight. Miss Szmecht, 21, managed to crawl 150 yards along a country lane in Rainford, Merseyside, to summon help from the occupants of a cottage. Before dying, she told paramedics that her boyfriend had attacked her.
Clarke, owner of a taxi company, from West Derby, Liverpool, was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday of murder. The former soldier remained impassive in the dock when the verdict was delivered by the jury but turned to wink at the mother of his three children who was sobbing in the public gallery.
Kaline Adamska, the sister of Miss Szmecht, hugged the police liaison officer sitting beside her. The jury had been told that Clarke had been violent towards Miss Szmecht during their year-long relationship and she had reported him to police. Andrew Menary, QC, for the prosecution, said that Clarke had ended the relationship and had asked her to leave the home they shared. Although the relationship was at an end he remained jealous of her friendships with other men and refused to allow her to see them.
Mr Menary told the jury it was in that atmosphere that Miss Szmecht made a naive and “out of character” blackmail attempt. She is said to have demanded £1,000 from Clarke to withdraw a police statement about how he had broken a bone in her hand and threatened to burn down her flat.
Clarke had told her he would pay the money and they agreed to meet near her new home in the Croxteth area of the city on June 11 last year. Instead, Clarke forced her into his van, locked her inside a cage in the back and left her inside for four hours with the car alarm sounding while it was parked at his garage business. He later drove her to Blindfoot Road, near the village of Rainford, St Helens.
Clarke was originally charged with murder alongside his uncle, David Clarke, 46, of Walton, Liverpool, and friend Philip Savin, 29, of Bootle. On the day the trial was due to begin, Savin and David Clarke agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and give evidence for the prosecution.
Savin described how Anthony Clarke became increasingly angry that Ms Szmecht, who worked in the Bar Italia restaurant in Liverpool city centre, was receiving text messages from a man. It was established later that the man was not a new lover but her landlord.
Savin helped Clarke to force Ms Szmecht, who was originally from Kloda, near Leszno, Poland, into the van and terrified her by holding a container of petrol in front of her while she was trapped in the vehicle.
David Clarke, who is also a business partner of Anthony Clarke, told the court that his nephew confessed the murder to him the next day and it was he who arranged for all evidence of the hostage ordeal to be removed. He has pleaded guilty to assisting an offender and Savin pleaded guilty to kidnap, making threats and assisting an offender.
Clarke told the jury that the idea of blackmail must have come from the “gangster” boyfriend of Miss Szmecht.
Merseyside Police put armed officers around the court building for the verdict because Clarke was thought to have links with the criminal underworld of Liverpool.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Dale, who led the investigation, said: “Monika … agreed to meet with Clarke on the afternoon of June 11. We do not know exactly what happened to her after that, until she turned up, seeking help in Blindfoot Road at 9pm, brutally stabbed and set alight. It was a truly brutal and tragic end to a young life.”
The Daily Mail (03 May 2008 )
Jailed for life: Man who stabbed and set his girlfriend on fire but was caught out by her dying accusation
A former soldier has been jailed for a minimum of 25 years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend whom he kidnapped, set on fire and stabbed.
Jealous Anthony Clarke forced Monika Szmecht, 21, into a cage in his van where she was held for four hours.
He then drove her to a country lane in Merseyside where she was stabbed six times and set alight.
When she remained alive, Clarke resumed the stabbing frenzy before she was left for dead.
But Ms Szmecht, a waitress originally from Kloda, near Leszno, Poland, managed to crawl to a house for help and named her killer to paramedics in the moments before she died.
Clarke, a businessman on the fringes of Liverpool’s criminal underworld, had denied murder but was convicted by a unanimous jury of 11 at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.
As he stood in the dock today, it was clear he had suffered severe injuries overnight. He had two black eyes and large cuts and swelling along the left side of his neck.
Mr Justice Teare jailed him for life with a minimum term of 25 years.
The judge told Clarke: “Nobody who listened to the evidence of how Monika died will fail to be horrified.
“This murder began by you kidnapping Monika and keeping her captive for almost four hours.
“You drove her out to an isolated spot. You stabbed her six times and you set her alight with the aid of a petrol can and when you saw she was still moving, you stabbed her further.
“Despite her extreme suffering she somehow walked, or perhaps staggered, to a nearby house where she collapsed, naked and smouldering.
“And she identified you as her attacker to those who came to her aid.”
The judge added: “It is difficult to imagine the enormity of the physical and mental suffering you inflicted on Monika.
“It must have been extreme.”
Because of Clarke’s underworld links, Judge Teare had agreed to allow armed police officers to manage security around the court building and courtroom.
Outside court, Ms Szmecht’s sister, Kalina Adamska, made a brief statement saying: “Monika was a happy person, very smiley and with a beautiful face.
“He (Clarke) is not a human, he is a beast.
“I never want him to leave jail but I am pleased with the sentence.”
Also jailed today was Clarke’s uncle, David Clarke, 46, of Walton Village, Liverpool, and best friend Philip Savin, 29, of Chester Avenue, Bootle, Merseyside.
They were originally charged with murder alongside Clarke but, on the day the trial was due to start, they pleaded guilty to lesser charges and gave evidence for the case against the murderer.
David Clarke was jailed for two years for assisting an offender. The court heard that he helped his nephew dispose of evidence and obstructed the police inquiry into Ms Szmecht’s death.
Because of time served on remand, he will be released in around five months.
Savin, also a former soldier, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for helping his friend kidnap Ms Szmecht and attempting to destroy evidence.
The court was told that when Ms Szmecht was murdered last June, Savin was on the run following the theft of a lorry containing £26,000 worth of soap.
He was jailed for a further 18 months for that offence and told he must serve a minimum of three years. Judge Teare said that, while their evidence had assisted the prosecution, there had always been a powerful case against Clarke.