It's hard to look at this photo of sweet-faced, smiling Daniel Pelka when you know the terrible suffering he endured. How did his torture go unnoticed in modern Britain?


Just after 3am, on 3 March 2012, a 999 call was made by Mariusz Krezolek, 36.

His girlfriend’s son, Daniel Pelka, 4, was seriously ill.

‘He’s stopped breathing, please help me,’ begged Daniel’s mother, Magdalena Luczak, 29, taking over the phone call.

Paramedics arrived at their Coventry home in just seven minutes.

They battled to revive Daniel, but at 3.50am, he was pronounced dead.

A tragedy.

But what came to light next was truly sickening.

It emerged Daniel had been killed by his stepfather and mother, and they’d locked him in a box room, waiting 33 hours before calling for help.

Daniel was often kept in this small, unheated room alone, for long periods.

Inside were no toys or furniture – bar a stained mattress on the floor. It stank of urine as Daniel was forced to use the room as a toilet.

The door handle of the box room had been removed, and police found Daniel’s fingerprints on the inside, showing his desperate attempts to escape.

No handle on the inside of the room where Daniel Pelka was kept (Photo: REX/Shutterstock)

As punishment when Krezolek and Luczak decided Daniel had misbehaved, they’d make him sit in a cold bath.

Once Luczak had forced his head under the water until he was unconscious.

Another time she force fed him salt.

Daniel was regularly beaten and, in 2011, when Daniel was 3, Krezolek broke his arm.

In the couple’s home, the kitchen cupboards were full, and there was a full bowl of fresh fruit on the side.

Yet Daniel had been starved.

He died weighting 1st 9lb – the weight of an average 18 month old.

Teachers at Daniel’s school had reported him eating out of the bin or taking food from other pupils’ lunch boxes.

A teaching assistant described him as a ‘bag of bones’.

Daniel’s body had over 30 injuries, but what caused his death was a fatal blow to the head.

At Birmingham Crown Court, Krezolek and Luczak admitted child cruelty, but denied murder, blaming each other.

Krezolek and Luczak (Photo: REX/Shutterstock)

In July 2013, both were convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.

A serious case review found there were missed opportunities to help little Daniel.

While teachers and medical professionals raised concerns over Daniel’s injuries and hunger, they were too quick to accept his mother’s lies, explaining them away.

A month before his death Daniel had been seen by a paediatrician who put his severe weight loss down to worms.

Police had visited Magdalena Luczak’s home almost 30 times in response to suspected domestic violence and the report said officers could have done more to protect Daniel.

Perhaps most shockingly of all, the review found that, despite the red flags, there was no record any professional had ever asked Daniel about his home life or his relationships with his mother and Krezolek.

If only they had.

Luczak was found hanged in her cell in July 2015. Krezolek died of a heart attack in prison the following year.

With both his killers dead, many questions remain about the death of Daniel Pelka.

All we can hope is the lessons learned from his tragic and preventable death will stop another child suffering in such an unthinkable way.