UK

Daniel Pelka 'Desperate' To Get Food In Weeks Before Death

04/06/2013 21:44 BST | Updated 04/06/2013 21:46 BST

A four-year-old boy alleged to have been starved and murdered by his mother and stepfather was sent to school with a lunchbox containing half of a sandwich, a court heard today.

Jurors were told that Daniel Pelka, who is said to have been systematically denied food over several months, would "eat anything he could get his hands on" in the period before his death.

daniel pelka

Daniel was subject to campaign of "incomprehensible" cruelty

The Crown alleges that Daniel died from a head injury following an "incomprehensible" campaign of abuse at the hands of Magdelena Luczak and her partner, Mariusz Krezolek.

Giving evidence on the second day of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, teaching assistant Amy Tokely wiped away tears as she told how Daniel wanted to consume "muddy and dirty" pancakes which had been on the floor.

Describing her experience of teaching the youngster at Coventry's Little Heath Primary School, Miss Tokely told the court: "Daniel stood out from the other children within the first couple of hours of me being in the class room.

"I had noticed that he helped himself to fruit (from a fruit bowl) a number of times and he kind of stood out instantly."

Asked by prosecutor Jonas Hankin, QC, what Daniel was given in the lunchbox he brought to school, Miss Tokely replied: "Initially it was a slice of bread cut in half with ham inside.

"He would have a drink and on occasion he would have perhaps some loose crisps in a bag."

After a time, the witness added, the contents of the lunchbox increased to a full sandwich.

Miss Tokely told the court she never saw Daniel fail to finish his lunch, but did see him looking for food in other children's lunchboxes.

Daniel's behaviour prompted the lunchboxes of his classmates to be locked away in an office until lunchtime, the court heard.

Invited to describe Daniel's weight loss after the February half-term before his death in March last year, Miss Tokely told Mr Hankin: "He appeared to be losing weight. His skin was very pale and his hair had gone straw-like.

"It was noticeable. His clothes were hanging off him and the attempts to get food became greater - they were desperate."

Daniel, whose mother and stepfather came to Britain from Poland in 2006, was pronounced dead in the early hours of 3 March after paramedics were called to his home in Coventry.

Krezolek, 33, and Luczak, 27, deny murder and causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial, which his expected to last for up to eight weeks, was adjourned until Wednesday.

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