Nine years ago at their work Christmas party, Magda Lesicka found herself irresistibly drawn to Peter Chilvers. And who could blame her? After all, there was a lot to like.
Then in his mid-twenties, the blond trainee pilot was well-educated, dashingly good-looking and charming to boot.
Of course, much the same could have been said of Lesicka. After completing a masters’ degree in foreign literary texts, she had left her home in Poland to travel the world.
And it was while working for Ryanair as a flight attendant that her and Chilvers’ paths crossed in December 2010.
Both were based in Germany, and Lesicka had been named ‘designated driver’ at the staff Christmas do.
She offered the young airman a lift back to his flat – and stayed the night.
Soon afterwards, the pair moved in together and when Chilvers transferred back to England, she came too.
Peter Chilvers with Magdalena Lesicka. Chilvers, from Northwich, Cheshire, denied any wrongdoing and subsequently went on trial where a jury convicted him last month of controlling or coercive behaviour
They duly got engaged – Lesicka proposed to her partner on February 29, 2012, a Leap Year – and in 2015, they celebrated the birth of son James.
A quick flick through their Facebook pages and a casual observer would be forgiven for assuming that the arrival of their beautiful baby capped an already perfect relationship.
Alongside photos of the couple enjoying sun-soaked holidays was a picture from the delivery suite.
In it, Chilvers, smiling proudly for the camera, posed beside his wife as she cradled their newborn son. The reality could hardly have been more different.
Behind Chilvers’s clean-cut appearance and successful career lay a fearful temper and a propensity for volcanic rages and extreme jealousy.
Over the years, a court heard, the ‘selfish, entitled bully’ subjected his fiancée to a relentless campaign of mental and physical torment that began almost as soon as they met.
Lesicka with James. Lesicka phoned Greater Manchester Police and two police officers were sent to her address on August 25 where she showed them bruises to her arms and thigh
He nicknamed Lesicka ‘sheep’, referring to himself as a ‘sheep owner’, belittling her in front of friends and even picking errant hairs from his forehead and forcing her to swallow them.
Several times she tried to leave him, but during one of their periodic reconciliations she accidentally fell pregnant with James.
By the summer of 2017, Lesicka was living by herself in a rented property in Manchester with their son who was coming up to two.
Chilvers was involved in a long-running affair with another Ryanair stewardess, Lisa Spencer.
Fearing that Lesicka might be planning on taking James back to Poland, Chilvers began to bombard her with a series of phone calls in which he threatened that she would be arrested and would never see their son again.
Lesicka could take no more. Some time on August 26, 2017, she stabbed her son to death then used the same knife to try to kill herself. Despite the blade puncturing one of her lungs, she survived.
James, pictured, was born in 2015 and was killed on August 26, 2017
She was initially charged with her son’s murder, but prosecutors eventually accepted her guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility based on the physical and psychological abuse she claimed to have been subjected to by Chilvers. In July last year, she was jailed for 15 years.
At the time, nothing could be reported as Chilvers was himself facing trial over her treatment.
Having been convicted of a campaign of controlling and coercive behaviour against Lesicka, the 33-year-old was himself yesterday sentenced to 18 months in prison. Lesicka gave evidence in his trial.
And, while in jail, she composed a victim impact statement, parts of which were read at the sentencing hearing.
‘When I started a relationship with Peter Chilvers I had absolutely no idea he would be the controlling monster I discovered him to be,’ she wrote.
‘It is important that the public understand what Peter Chilvers’s abuse did to me.
Lesicka, also 33, inflicted a sustained attack on their son at her home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in August 2017 and then tried to kill herself (pictured: Lesicka with James)
‘It destroyed me. I have no idea how he achieved this and I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to work out how he turned the confident ambitious me into what I am now.’
After a difficult start in life, Polish-born Lesicka, who was adopted, had grown in to a young woman with the world at her feet.
‘She was bubbly, really clever, and strong,’ a friend told the Daily Mail. ‘Nothing would faze her.’
Chilvers, meanwhile, was raised in a middle-class household in Staffordshire, studying modern history and international relations at Essex University before a love of gliding prompted him to become a pilot.
After training in Ireland and Florida, by 2010 he was working as a second officer for Ryanair out of Frankfurt, Germany.
After their Christmas encounter, the pair rented a flat together, sharing expenses equally. But even in those early days, Chilvers’s temper wasn’t far from the surface.
After Lesicka slept on a sofa when he came back drunk one night, she claimed he erupted, shouting and slamming doors until she apologised.
Giving evidence at his trial, Lesicka said she ‘talked myself into believing it was a ‘one-off’.’
Meanwhile, behind closed doors, he was displaying apparently sadistic behaviour, twisting Lesicka’s nipples under her clothes and demeaning her.
‘He used to get a spark on his eyes when I challenged him about it,’ she told his trial. ‘He would look at me with a smile in his eyes and say sorry. He didn’t mean it.’
The couple had been in relationship since 2010 but Chilvers cheated on Lesicka from 2014 with another Ryanair cabin crew member, Lisa Spencer (pictured), jurors were told
During one night out she accused him of pushing her into a corner and punching the wall next to her head because he thought she had spoken to another man.
Prosecutor Rob Hall claimed Chilvers ‘treated Magda Lesicka as if she was a possession to do with as he pleased’.
In a doomed bid to repair their relationship, Lesicka proposed to Chilvers. But while he accepted, he did not tell his family, and they remained stuck in a destructive rut. After learning of the affair with Miss Spencer, Lesicka told the court she dumped him in late 2014.
But a few weeks after the break-up she discovered she was expecting his child when an infection stopped her contraceptive pill from working.
After James was born, mother and son moved to Lanzarote where Chilvers had moved following his promotion to captain in May 2015.
According to Lesicka he continued to bully and demean her, allegedly half-strangling her and making her swallow his facial hair.
The jury in Chilvers’s trial was told she interpreted his cruel behaviour ‘as him punishing her for having James’. ‘It seemed to Magda Lesicka that Peter Chilvers genuinely hated her,’ said Mr Hall.
In 2016 Lesicka discovered Chilvers was still sleeping with Miss Spencer, and she and James moved back to Britain where he funded a house for her in Wythenshawe and visited regularly.
Lesicka’s fear of Chilvers was revealed in court, which heard that she had made internet searches about ‘taser UK law’, ‘self-defence weapons UK’ and ‘killing in self-defence’ in the days before James’s death.
Chilvers, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, had downloaded an app on to his mobile phone which enabled him to record his calls. He said Lisa Spencer (pictured) was now his current partner
In an effort to break out, she reported his behaviour to police, visited Women’s Aid and contacted a solicitor. During a series of calls on the morning of August 26, 2017, Lesicka tried to persuade Chilvers it would be better to separate.
In a recording – played to a jury at Chilvers’s trial – he ranted that he would ‘take you to ****ing court and I will ****ing win and there’s many *****ing reasons why I will’.
Apparently resigning herself to putting up with the dysfunctional relationship, Lesicka called police saying she wanted to withdraw her complaint against Chilvers.
He meanwhile dropped James off with her and flew a holiday jet to Tenerife. Exactly what happened next is unclear, but at 11.55pm he returned to find a bloodied Lesicka. Police rushed to the house and found James’s blood-covered body on a bed.
Lesicka was treated for self-inflicted stab wounds, at one stage having to be placed in restraint to stop her pulling apart her stitches.She had suffered a mental breakdown without any warning.
For his part, Chilvers – who has been on bail throughout – now has two children aged 17 months and ten months by Miss Spencer.
Her Facebook page shows the quartet apparently enjoying the happy family life that was denied to Lesicka and James.
Describing the relationship in his evidence, Chilvers said Miss Spencer was ‘a very special girl’.
‘She has been my rock since everything happened,’ he said. ‘She stood by me, I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for her.’
In September – on what would have been James’s fourth birthday – Chilvers posted on Facebook: ‘Jamie, my beautiful and wonderful darling. We all miss you desperately.
‘Two years since your murder and still nothing has been done. On this day, your birthday, I solemnly promise you that I will fight for justice for you darling.’
With Chilvers’s imprisonment yesterday that justice finally came.
In 2016 Lesicka discovered Chilvers was still sleeping with Miss Spencer, and she and James moved back to Britain where he funded a house for her in Wythenshawe and visited regularly
Controlling Ryanair pilot, 33, is jailed for 18 months for putting his fiancee through a ‘living hell’, nicknaming her ‘sheep’ and tormenting her until he triggered a mental breakdown that led her to stab their 23-month-old son to death
By James Tozer for The Daily Mail
A cheating airline captain was jailed yesterday after subjecting his fiancée to a campaign of abuse which drove her to break down and kill their one-year-old son.
Peter Chilvers, 33, repeatedly belittled Magda Lesicka, 33, and warned her he would win custody of their boy if she left him.
It reached crisis point when she learnt the Ryanair pilot was continuing to pursue a barely-concealed affair with stewardess colleague Lisa Spencer.
But when Polish-born Lesicka tried to end their relationship, Chilvers launched into a rant.
He shouted: ‘I will be living with my son… fight me on this, you won’t win, you haven’t got the resources, you haven’t got the support… If you walk out, you walk out on your own.’
Tragically, Lesicka snapped and repeatedly stabbed James, 23 months, in the chest that evening. She then slit her throat and tried to hang herself.
Peter Chilvers pictured with James: Chilvers nicknamed Magda Lesicka ‘sheep’ and referred to himself as a ‘sheep owner’
Chilvers, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, had downloaded an app on to his mobile phone which enabled him to record his calls (left: Chilvers. Right: Lisa Spencer)
Chilvers arrived from piloting a holiday jet back from Tenerife – only for a bleeding Lesicka to fall into his arms when he opened the front door.
Five years in jail for those who ’emotionally bully’ partners
Bullies who emotionally abuse partners face up to five years in prison.
Under laws which came into force in 2015, anyone who inflicts psychological cruelty on their other halves can be prosecuted – even if there is no direct physical harm.
Domestic abusers who stop short of lashing out at their victims will be targeted with a new offence where there is evidence of ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’.
This could include preventing a partner from seeing family or friends, keeping them short of money, controlling their social media accounts, spying on their communications or determining aspects of their everyday life, such as when they eat, sleep or even go to the toilet.
Prosecutors are determined to tackle the problem of perpetrators who trap their victims in a ‘living hell’ with repeated threats, humiliation and intimidation.
Research has shown that 30 per cent of women – about five million – and 16 per cent of men, or 2.5million, experience domestic abuse during their lives.
In a heartbreaking case which could not be reported until today, the ex-stewardess was last year jailed for 15 years after admitting James’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
His grandparents described the ‘exceptionally bright’ little boy as ‘adorable, beautiful, inquisitive and loving’, saying he had recognised the spelling of his name for the first time on the morning of his killing on August 26, 2017.
Lesicka’s sentencing hearing was told her breakdown had been ‘induced’ by the ‘deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment’ to which she was subjected.
Chilvers – who moved in with Miss Spencer after the killing and now has two young daughters with her – later stood trial over his abuse. Yesterday he was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of coercive or controlling behaviour.
He was cleared of two counts of rape and one of assault by penetration. A statement written by Lesicka was read to Manchester Crown Court in which she branded Chilvers a ‘controlling monster’.
‘It is important that the public understand what Peter Chilvers’s abuse did to me,’ she said. ‘It destroyed me. I tried to leave but he wouldn’t let me. I had no power.’
Sentencing Chilvers yesterday, Judge Patrick Field QC called him a ‘selfish, entitled bully’ who had shown ‘no more than a hint’ of remorse.
He told Chilvers he had treated Lesicka as his ‘sexual property’ and that she felt she had no choice but to let him ‘help yourself to her body’.
Pictured: The house in Wythenshaw, Manchester where the child was found stabbed in 2017
Dressed in a suit and tie, Chilvers showed no emotion as he was sentenced, but his retired teacher mother Hilary broke down.
His trial heard how Lesicka suffered years of psychological torment with Chilvers threatening to kill her if she ever left with James.
Chilvers downloaded an app on his mobile phone enabling him to secretly record calls – an apparent attempt to gather evidence for future custody proceedings.
Recordings of his bullying calls to Lesicka on the day she killed their son were played to the jury in his trial. In the words of her barrister at her sentencing, they portrayed a ‘landscape of unending misery if she did not comply with his demands’.
After his rant, Lesicka called police saying she wanted to withdraw a complaint she had finally plucked up the courage to make against him.
Chilvers told jurors: ‘[Lisa Spencer] is a very special lady. She has been my rock since everything happened. She has really stood by me. I don’t think I would be here now if it was not for her.’ Pictured: Lisa Spencer
Chilvers, from Northwich, Cheshire, denied any wrongdoing and subsequently went on trial where a jury convicted him last month of controlling or coercive behaviour (pictured: Lisa Spencer)
But she was told it was too late and he would have to be questioned over her claims. That night, Lesicka ‘cracked after months of resistance’ and stabbed James to death in a bedroom of their home in Wythenshawe, Manchester.
Chilvers was acquitted of causing actual bodily harm over an incident in which Lesicka claimed he pinned her to the floor. But he was convicted of an alternative offence of common assault.
Mark Ford QC, defending, argued for a suspended sentence, saying Chilvers now has two young daughters with Miss Spencer and jailing him would be a ‘significant threat’ to his mental health.
‘Just a few years ago Peter Chilvers had the world at his feet,’ he added. Coercive control has been a crime since 2015 and includes psychological abuse and intimidation.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Eales said: ‘If people take anything away from this heartbreaking case, please let it be that there is support and help available for those suffering domestic abuse.’
Peter Chilvers with James. At Lesicka’s sentencing hearing, Mr Justice Dove said: ‘Who knows what he might have grown up to achieve?’
Peter Chilvers with James. In the days before the killing on August 26, Lesicka made internet searches about ‘taser UK law’, ‘self defence weapons UK’ and ‘killing in self defence’
Phone calls lay bare the abuse Peter Chilvers heaped on Magdalena Lesicka
Peter Chilvers walking out of Crown court in Manchester
Damning phone calls laid bare the ‘utter breakdown’ of Peter Chilvers’ and Magdalena Lesicka’s relationship in the hours before she she stabbed their son to death.
In one such call on August 26, 2017, in the hours before James died, Lesicka told Chilvers that she believed it would be better for the pair to separate.
But in a rant described as ‘visceral’ and ‘demeaning’ by prosecutors, Chilvers said if she left him then he would maintain custody of James.
Chilvers said: ‘If (you try to take James away), I’m going to take you to f****** court and I will f****** win and there’s many f****** reasons why I will.
‘I will be living with my son, fight me on this, you won’t win, you haven’t got the resources, you haven’t got the support, you’ve not got anything, you’ve not got the location, you’ve got nothing, you will lose and then when you lose you will have set times when you can see your child that’s if you take me to court. If you walk out, you walk out on your own, it’s that simple, what’s it going to be?’
In another call, Chilvers’ continued shouting and ranting about what would happen if they split.
Chilvers said: ‘He’s not living with you if you take him away from me you dumb b****, why the f***…I will never agree to not living with your son…I will never stop you living with your son, in fact I’ve invited him to a f****** house you dumb b****.
‘If you put him in the car and drive away you will be arrested and you’ll be done for abduction and if you try and take him out of the country you really will be done for abduction…I’ll get a court to put an order on his passport, if you try to smuggle him out of the country and you’re caught, you’ll be going to jail.
‘Do you think I’m going to agree to you taking James to a different area, let’s face it, if it’s more than 10 minutes away from my house forget it, do you really want the whole life for the next decade let’s say to be this sort of battle?
‘Every single day, is that what you want to put James through?
‘You haven’t got the resources to fight this if you take it to court anyway and if you were to claim legal aid the amount you’d be able to get would be negligible to what I’m able to put up.
‘I want James to have brothers and sisters, not half brother and sister with a f****** moron that you find.’
During Chilvers’ trial, prosecutor Rob Hall said the calls confirmed ‘the bullying, controlling, self-centred nature of Peter Chilvers’s behaviour towards a ground-down Magda Lesicka’.
Mitigating at Lesicka’s sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court last year, Timothy Roberts QC said the calls displayed the ‘ferocity and intensity of the manipulation of the defendant by Peter Chilvers’.
He said they set out a ‘series of impossible demands, portraying a landscape of unending misery if she did not comply with his demands’.