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Police gave Huddersfield men a lift and let them go after they hid murder victim’s body, court told

“Bad luck” struck the two men accused of the murder of Dariusz Michalowski the night they tried to bury his body, a court has heard.

Dariusz Michalowski’s body was not found for nine-and-half-years after he disappeared on March 13, 2011 after being punched, kicked, forced to bathe naked and perform a sex act on a dog and then stabbed, prosecutors say.

Two men – Ernest Weber, 46, of no fixed address and Adam Tolwinski, 39, of Devonshire Street, Keighley are standing trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of his murder, perverting the course of justice and preventing a legal burial. The trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks.

Read more: Man charged with attempted murder after woman stabbed in Almondbury

Jurors have so far heard how it was believed Dariusz had spoken to his wife about a stolen Ford worked on at the garage run by Weber and Tolwinski, and these details were revealed in 2020 by a man who also worked there and said he was present during the murder. It was this information – given after West Yorkshire Police tasked a detective superintendent to cast fresh eyes over the case – that led to the discovery of Dariusz’s body in woodland close to Mixenden reservoir.

The court heard on Monday that the man was also present for the “clean up” at the flat in Macauley Road, Birkby, Huddersfield, where Dariusz lived. Prosecutor Richard Horwell KC said: “Just as Ernest Weber and Adam Tolwinski had taken drugs during the beating and torture, so they continued to do so during the clean up and removal of the body.”

It was said Dariusz’ body was put into the boot of Weber’s Audi and taken to the garage where the witness was told to get a can of nitro before they got back into the car. Mr Horwell said: “Disposing of a body is difficult…it requires a remote location and privacy.”

Dariusz's body was found near to Mixenden Reservoir
Dariusz’s body was found near to Mixenden Reservoir
(Image: Google Maps)

Jurors heard that Mixenden was decided as the location, as Weber knew of those in the Polish community who went there to fish, but could not remember how to get there so called on a friend to take them. Once they picked the man up, they went on their way – but was caught on a speed camera in Halifax driving 37mph in a 30mph.

After that night, Weber received a notice of intended prosecution and claimed he had sold the car ten days before – March 3, 2011 – and was asked to provide a name of the person he sold it to, but he failed to do so. In a DVLA form dated that day, he claimed that car had been transferred to a man known as Adam Nowak – an alias he used – he lived at the Macauley Road premises.

In another stroke of “bad luck” the court heard that the foursome had been spotted by the occupants of a nearby cottage who called the police – leading them to split up, with Tolwinski driving the car to a farmyard, getting out, locking it and hiding it.

Mr Horwell said the witness had already disposed of the can of nitro when they were spotted by officers. He said: “Two of the officers drove to the end of the lane where the farm was. They drove into the farmyard, and alongside a shipping container, they found the car. It was unattended and when checked they found it to be locked.

“They searched the farmyard and found nothing and they drove back down the lane to join the others. Adam Tolwinski wasn’t seen that night. The three other man were approached by some of the officers but at the time the police had nothing – or so they thought – to link them to the Audi or anything nefarious.”

The court was told that the three pretended they could not speak English very well and were searched. They gave their names, but it was said that the link was not made between Weber and the Audi, despite him being the registered keeper. The three asked the officers for the train station in order to get to Huddersfield, and said something “about being there for vodka,” Mr Horwell said.

Macaulay Road, Birkby, where Dariusz was last seen alive
Macaulay Road, Birkby, where Dariusz was last seen alive
(Image: Google Maps)

He added: “The police thought it odd that the three men were wearing only T-shirts on such a cold March night…They had no apparent means of transport…None of the men had any vodka but because they hadn’t been connected to the Audi, or any offence they were permitted to go and were assisted in doing so.”

The three men were taken to either a train or bus station in Halifax by officers and got a lift home after Weber called another man.

Mr Horwell said: “This was a lucky escape. If they had been connected to the car, the outcome would have been very different.” Tolwinski made his way home in the Audi, it was said, and the car was caught on an ANPR camera just after 2.30am on March 14.. The car was said to have been leaving the farmyard area by the same occupant at the cottage who had called the police earlier.

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

The prosecutor said: “When Adam Tolwinski arrived [back] he said he had left the body at the farm and he had covered the body with the boot lining from the Audi and some tyres from the farm.'”

The court heard that the next day – March 14 – Piotr Weber, 43, – who stands accused of perverting the course of justice and preventing lawful burial – went to the witnesses’ home to find out why neither him nor Tolwinski were at the garage. It was said he was told an outline of what had happened before all met at the garage and Piotr Weber asked Tolwinski: “What the f*** have you done?” And punched him in the face.

Mr Horwell said: “He was angry – more you may think – at the inconvenience of the aftermath than the fact that Dariusz Michalowski had been murdered. He became the director and leader of the clean up.” It was said he reported Dariusz missing to the police and encouraged phone calls to continue to be made to his phone.

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The court was told that another man – who got out of the car closer to the reservoir – directed the foursome to the area where Dariusz’s body had been left before Tolwinski and the witness were ordered to bury it.

Mr Horwell said: “Mr Tolwinski dug the grave. He [the witness] refused to help move the naked body so Adam Tolwinski had to drag it to the grave…The deed was done and notwithstanding the various problems and set backs, at last this can be said: The operation to bury Dariusz Michalowski and conceal his murder had been a success. Dariusz Michalowski lay in that grave for nine-and-a-half-years, but for [the witness] assisting, it would not doubt still be.”

The trial continues.

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