Three criminals have been sentenced to a combined total of 72 years for their roles in the 2011 torture and murder of Dariusz Michalowski, along with a plot to conceal the crime. The sentences were handed down at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday, 26 October.
Adam Tolwinski, aged 39, from Devonshire Street, Keighley, and Ernest Weber, aged 46, were both given life sentences with a minimum term of 33 years for the murder of Dariusz, preventing a legal burial, and perverting the course of justice in covering up the crime. Piotr Weber, aged 43, of Bridgend Close in Middlesborough, received a six-year sentence for perverting the course of justice and preventing a legal burial.
The men were brought to justice after years of police investigation into Dariusz’s disappearance, including appeals in West Yorkshire and his native Poland. The Homicide and Major Enquiry Team conducted frequent reviews of the case, and in January 2020, further analysis led to the re-questioning of all three men involved, as well as other connected parties.
One of these parties later provided crucial information that led to the arrest of all three individuals and the discovery of Dariusz’s body in land in Mixenden in December 2020.
During the extensive trial, the court learned that Dariusz had familial ties to both Weber brothers in Poland through marriage and had associated with them, as well as Tolwinski, and other members of the Polish community in West Yorkshire. This association included occasional work for Ernest Weber and Tolwinski at a garage they owned in Huddersfield.
Both had previously assaulted him, and on March 13, they visited him in his flat on Macauley Road in Huddersfield under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They confronted him, believing he had shared information about their illegal activities. Over the ensuing hours, they subjected him to beatings, torture, and ultimately, a fatal assault with a knife delivered by Tolwinski.
The men then transported his body to a rural area in Mixenden, where they left it covered. Piotr Weber learned of the events the following day and took a leading role in subsequent efforts to bury the body properly and create a false trail to mislead the police into thinking Dariusz had disappeared.
Detective Superintendent Tony Nicholson of the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, who led the 2020 reinvestigation, said: “We welcome the sentencing of these men for their roles in what was an appalling set of crimes committed against a vulnerable, isolated man.
“Dariusz was subjected to a horrific assault intended to brutalise and degrade him in the most sadistic fashion. It is hard to comprehend what was going through the minds of those who carried it out.
“All parties then became involved in a detailed plot to cover up the murder and dispose of Dariusz’s body in an isolated rural location, denying him a burial and denying his relatives any awareness of what had happened to their loved one.
“Frankly it is hard to think of a more callous set of circumstances in which this poor man could be treated, especially by people who were his close associates
He added: “I am pleased we have been able to secure some justice for Dariusz and provide some answers for his family.
“All unsolved serious offences in West Yorkshire are subject to review and this case again demonstrates that no matter how long ago an offence was committed, we will always seek to bring those responsible to justice.”
David Holderness, Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Yorkshire & Humberside said: “Dariusz Michalowski suffered unthinkable and inhumane levels of abuse before he was cruelly murdered by Adam Tolwinski and Ernest Weber.
“Their sadism was laid bare when they tortured Dariusz before killing him – and in a final act of callousness, disposing of his body with fellow defendant Piotr Weber.
“The CPS worked hand-in-glove with West Yorkshire police to unpick the web of lies the defendants had spun to cover up their crime, leading to the conviction of all three men – with life sentences handed down for Tolwinski and Weber.
“Nothing can make up for the suffering Dariusz endured and the loss so keenly felt by his family and friends, but I hope this conviction and sentencing bring some comfort to those who knew him.”