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Natalia Czekaj. Courtesy of

Alcoholic avoids murder trial

James Richardson, 25, nearly beheaded his partner, but will avoid a murder trial due to his alcohol dependency.

The plumber who almost decapitated his barmaid partner with a breadknife will only face a manslaughter charge, as the prosecution accepted Richardson’s diagnosis of alcohol dependency syndrome.

Richardson of Berridge Green, north London, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his Polish partner, Natalia Czekaj, 34, earlier this year (January).


After a medical report recognised Richardson alcoholism as a medical condition, prosecutor Tim Cray QC accepted his plea of diminished responsibility. The acceptance of the plea meant that the prosecution were satisfied that his recognised alcoholism impaired his responsibility.

Richardson has now been remanded in custody after his hearing in the Old Bailey, where Alexander Cameron represented him. He will be sentenced on Friday, October 2nd.

Richardson and his girlfriend were believed to both be functioning alcoholics. They had been celebrating New Year at their home when the defendant attacked Czekaj with a kitchen knife, sawing away at her throat with the utensil. Richardson’s blood alcohol was found to be four times the drink-drive limit at the time of the killing.

Judge John Bevan QC said of the case “It seems to me this is not a case for a medical health act order. It is a case for a determinate sentence and the only question is how long.”

Following Czekaj’s death, her friend, Eva Zawisca, described her as popular and friendly, telling he Evening Standard “I’ve known Natalia since we were 10 or 11 years old in primary school and we were very close.

“She was friendly, energetic and always smiling. She was just a lovely person. She loved sports and in school she used to do judo training.”

Natalia Czekaj had lived with Richardson for three years prior to her death, according to the Standard.

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