Ryanair pilot's mental torment drove partner to kill son

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Magdalena Lesicka and Peter ChilversImage source, GMP
Image caption,
Magdalena Lesicka and Peter Chilvers had been in a relationship since 2010

A woman stabbed her 23-month-old son to death following a mental breakdown triggered by her controlling pilot boyfriend, a court has heard.

Ryanair pilot Peter Chilvers repeatedly threatened to kill Magda Lesicka, 33, before she attacked their son, James, at her home in Wythenshawe in 2017.

She was jailed for 15 years last year after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Chilvers, 33, has now been jailed for 18 months after being convicted of controlling or coercive behaviour.

Manchester Crown Court heard Lesicka, who met Chilvers while also working for the airline, was sentenced on the basis her mental illness emerged suddenly and without any warning, and she had no memory of committing the offence on 26 August 2017.

'Unending misery'

The couple had been in a relationship since 2010 but Chilvers cheated on Lesicka from 2014 with another cabin crew member, jurors heard.

Chilvers, from Northwich, Cheshire, warned Lesicka in a "visceral" phone call, which was played in court, that she did not have the financial resources to win a custody battle.

He had repeatedly threatened to kill her if she removed James from his care and demanded they continue to live together at a new home in the Cheshire village of Wincham.

In the days before the killing, Lesicka made internet searches about "killing in self defence" and contacted domestic abuse charity Women's Aid, the court heard.

The Crown accepted her 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".

Image caption,
James Chilvers was killed at Magda Lesicka's home in Beaford Road, Wythenshawe, in August 2017

Chilvers' controlling or coercive behaviour, between December 2015 and August 2017, included using or threatening physical violence, forcing her into degrading sexual acts, isolating her from her friends and restricting her finances.

As part of the evidence, the court heard a 33-minute phone call made by Chilvers on the morning of 26 August to Lesicka - before the killing - in which at times he screamed profanities at her.

Rob Hall, prosecuting, said such behaviour confirmed his "bullying, controlling, self-centred nature".

Lesicka, a Polish national, was jailed in July last year after pleading guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

'Controlling monster'

At her sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court, Mr Justice Dove said James was "dearly loved and cherished" by those around him and had been "caught as a tragic innocent victim between two warring parents".

"Whatever the rights and wrongs of that dispute, the last thing that should have happened is he lose his life - killed by a parent," he said.

James's grandmother, Hilary Chilvers, read out her victim personal statement in court and described her grandson as being "full of potential and promise".

"We have all been deprived of James's presence in our life," she said. "He was adorable, beautiful, inquisitive and loving."

Lesicka gave evidence in the prosecution of Chilvers, of Hewitt Grove, and parts of her victim personal statement composed in prison were read out.

"It's hard to see myself as a victim given the tragic outcome. I know my life has been changed forever and there is nothing I can do change it back," the statement said.

"When I started a relationship with Peter Chilvers I had absolutely no idea he would be the controlling monster I discovered him to be.

"It is important that the public understand what Peter Chilvers' abuse did to me. It destroyed me."

Mark Ford QC, defending, said character references for Chilvers provided to the court painted a "very different picture" to that given by Lesicka.

He said his partner Lisa Spencer had attested to a supportive, co-operative and loving relationship with him.

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