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Welcome to the Murder Mile true-crime podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, set within one square mile of the West End.
Episode Twenty-Two: On the afternoon of Sunday 10th May 2015, a suitcase was found floating in the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice containing the folded-up corpse of 23 year old Marta Ligman. But how had she got there, who put her there, and why?
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"Hey! Where's all the coloured dots gone?" Well, this is a new Murder Map, featuring murder cases which took part in new square mile in and around Paddington, Notting Hill and Bayswater.
Ep22 – Canal Killers – Part 2 Marta Ligman
INTRO: Thank you for downloading episode twenty two of the Murder Mile true-crime podcast.
Last week we were in the East of the West End, today we’re in the West of the West End, and soon we’ll be returning back to our familiar home, right in the middle of the West End. If you’re wondering why, what I’m doing is setting up new Murder Miles; four square miles of murder covering Soho & Covent Garden, King’s Cross & Euston, Paddington & Bayswater and one area as yet undecided.
That way, we can cover the full-story of many of the West End’s long-forgotten murderers, serial-killers and spree-killers as they slaughter their way from Soho to the surrounding boroughs, kicking off with an upcoming four-part special on the true-story of The Blackout Ripper. Don’t forget to stay tuned to the end of this episode to hear more about Murder Mile’s recommended podcast of the week, this time it’s the amazing Dark Divide. Thank you for listening and enjoy the episode.
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within one square mile of the West End.Today’s episode is about Marta Ligman; a caring daughter, loyal friend and devoted girlfriend, who dreamed of being a mother, but died at the hands of her jealous, controlling and abusive boyfriend.
Murder Mile contains descriptions of abuse, distress and death which may offend, as well as realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 22: Canal Killers Part 2: Marta Ligman.
Today I’m on my little boat, chugging along the final stretch of the Grand Union Canal, in an area known as Little Venice; with a cuppa tea in one hand, a Belgian bun in the other, and the ship’s tiller being steered by my big round butt-cheeks. “Ah, Little Venice” I hear you sigh “it sounds so romantic”.
And it is… sort of. But unlike the real Venice; with its myriad of art galleries, theatres, museums, cafes, restaurants and architectural marvels, all spread across a labyrinthian canal system of interconnecting waterways; Little Venice has only one canal, one ornate bridge, one towpath, two good pubs, one fine restaurant, one okay-ish café, and no gondoliers at all. You can’t even buy a Cornetto here.
Little Venice is so short that when tourists arrive, after just a two minute walk – having mistakenly headed towards the horror of Westbourne Park, instinctively tucked their purses into their pockets, cash in their socks and credit-cards wherever they have a slot, as locals wave them off shouting “go back, go back, the muggers are awake, they can smell money” – they stop, and say “oh, is that it?”.
Little Venice is a mishmash of millionaire’s shag-pads and council flats, dumped at the arse-end of the choking fumes of Paddington Station; with the skies full of cranes, the grass verges strewn with dog-shit and the towpaths splashed with piddle and plop as a slew of boaters decant stinking cassettes of faecal matter from their loos into a vast feted pit of willy-waste, vaggie-splash and steamy bum-lumps.
Oh yes, this is exactly like Venice. Then again, romance is vital to sustain any relationship, it’s the fuel that keeps that spark alive, along with large doses of love, honesty, compassion and (above all) trust.
But on the afternoon of Sunday 10th May 2015, in the very heart of Little Venice; life stood still and the romance died, as floating in the water, something heavy thunked again the steel hull of a canal-boat; marking a violent end to a deadly relationship, and the death of Marta Ligman. (INTERSTITIAL)
In 1993, just three years after the fall of Communism in the former soviet blocs of Eastern Europe, Martusia Ligman (known as Marta) was born in a small village of Trzeciewiec (Chetsieviets) in north central Poland. Raised by her beloved mother, doting father and older brother Lukasz, in a modern seven-bedroomed house, Marta had a joyous upbringing full of good health, humour, happiness and – best of all – a loving family.
Being a small rural village of just 520 people, surrounded by thousands of acres of farm-land, fields and forest, whose most notable feature was a 320 metre tall soviet-era radio mast which dominated the flat skyline, although Trzeciewiec was a nice place to raise a traditional Polish family, to a modern Polish girl like Marta (who shunned Communism and embraced Capitalism) being more than 200 miles from the capital city of Warsaw, her home-town felt like a vast empty wilderness.
On the 1st May 2004, along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia, and later Bulgaria and Romania, Poland (having become one of the wealthiest and most progressive countries in Eastern Europe) joined the European Union, which allowed the free and unrestricted movement of all European citizens, to and from all countries, including the UK.
Described by those who knew her as “the most beautiful girl, so popular, so kind, always laughing and joking”, as well as “petite, calm and always polite”, Marta dreamed of moving to London, having a good job, a nice home and starting a family with a loving husband.
In 2008, aged just 16 years old, Marta met a handsome man in an internet chatroom, who although he was eleven years her senior, he had a steady job, a beaming smile and romanced her with sweet-talk, heart-shaped emoji’s and tales of his new life living in London. In 2012, having packed a large black suitcase, Marta excitedly hopped on a two-hour flight to Heathrow to join her beloved boyfriend; her dreams were coming true. But three years later, she would be dead (INTERSTITIAL).
Marta started her new life in Harlesden (north-west London); a lower-working class enclave which although fiscally poor is a culturally rich former village, complete with a diverse mix of Somali butchers, Eritrean cafés, Russian bakers and Irish pubs, as well as the Delicja Polish Delicatessen on the High Street, where she worked as a cashier six days a week. With bright red hair, a warm smile and a cheeky face, Marta was not only popular, but she was also a little ray of light who easy-to-spot…
…but sometimes, her lovely smile would slip, her playful laugh was muffled and her beautiful face would be marked with cuts, scrapes and swelling, as her bright blue eyes were hidden by dark black bruises. Her dream had turned into a living nightmare, and his name was Tomasz Kocik. (Kochik)
Being tall, handsome and toned, with bright blue eyes, funky spiked hair and a smooth yet rugged look, Marta was instantly smitten with Tomasz Kocik. And as their love blossomed, finances grew and he held down a steady job as a forklift truck driver for a construction company, Marta & Kocik moved in to the ground-floor flat of no5 Buckingham Road (just of Harlesden High Street), with the talk of wedding bells and babies.
But after three years of living together, the relationship had soured; not just because of Tomasz’s addiction to amphetamines (the effects of which included sleeplessness, anxiety, paranoia, hostility and aggression); not just because of Tomasz’s ever-increasing sexual appetite which had gone from pornography, bondage and sex-games, to trying to coerce his unwilling girlfriend into group-sex; but by spying on her, stalking her, searching her social media for evidence of infidelity and demanding to see the deli’s CCTV to prove where she had been that day; as Tomasz became more possessive, controlling and jealous, his violence towards Marta increased.
Shortly before her death, Marta had changed her status on Facebook from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated”. On the Monday 27th April 2015, her boss received a text which read “I am so sorry, I have to go to Poland, my mum is sick”, which was uncharacteristic of her, as being so polite, honest and living only a few houses away, she would either call-up or pop in see her boss face-to-face. On the evening of Tuesday 28th April 2015, Marta called her mother (Ewa) in Poland, which she would do every day without fail. But as her bruises got blacker, as her face grew more swollen and her fresh cuts struggled to heal, so Marta put on an ever-increasingly braver face to protect those she loved from the truth. That was the last time that Marta Ligman was heard from, or seen alive.
At 2:30pm on Sunday 10th May 2015, almost two weeks after Marta’s disappearance, just a few yards shy of the Lord Hill footbridge in Little Venice, something heavy thunked against the hull of a moored-up canal-boat. Expecting either litter, a log or a canoe, the startled owners peeped over the bow of their boat to spot a large black suitcase, totally submerged and floating in the water - a sight which is not unusual to see - expect sprouting out of the zip was a shock of bright red hair.
With no purse, no ID and no obvious birth marks, Police were puzzled as to who this woman was; all they knew was that she was a white European woman, in her early 20’s, 5 foot 2 inches tall, roughly 8 stone in weight, with bright red dyed hair, but there was no missing person’s report which matched that description. And with her petite frame being in a severe state of decomposition, whoever had tucked her tiny corpse into the foetal position, wrapped her in a white curtain, a set of black bin-bags, and had dumped her body in the Grand Union Canal, they had done-so seven to ten days prior.
On Monday 11th May 2015, 24 hours after the young woman’s body had been discovered, and with her death splashed all over the news, Tomasz Kocik reported to the Police that his girlfriend Marta Ligman was missing, a positive identification was made, and Tomasz confessed to unlawfully dumping her body in the canal.
In the subsequent inquiry, in his defence, Tomasz would later state that on the evening of Wednesday 29th April 2015, having finished his shift as fork-lift truck driver, Tomasz had returned to their ground-floor flat at 5 Buckingham Road in Harlesden, to find Marta, lying on the sofa, pale and unresponsive. Fearing the worst, Tomasz laid her limp body on the floor and fought to resuscitate her; pumping her heart with his hands and fighting to breathe the life back into the lifeless lungs of his beloved girlfriend, but by then, she was already dead. Owing shock and panic, Tomasz didn’t call the Police.
He couldn’t. Her death was partially his fault, as with both Marta and Tomasz leading a very active and varied sex-life, which included role-play, bondage and sadomasochism, as well as spankings, beatings and mild-torture, all of which was mutually-agreed physical violence between two consenting adults, as well as the recreational use of stimulants to increase their stamina and sexual libido, after a four day sex session between the 24th and 28th April, having taken large quantities of amphetamines, Marta Ligman (who was just 5 foot 2 inch tall, 8 stone in weight, and suffered from various health problems) had suffered a sudden heart attack and died.
That night, being wracked with guilt at not having stopped her, terrified that he would get the blame for her accidental death and that (having purchased the amphetamines) that he would be charged with her manslaughter, Tomasz pulled from the loft a large black suitcase, unfurled a white curtain, a reel of black bin-bags and set about disposing of his beloved girlfriend’s body.
Of course, that was his version of the story, but the evidence, the autopsy, the CCTV footage and the wealth of witness testimony would tell an entirely different story. This is what happened to Marta Ligman, and – I warn you now – it is not easy to listen to.
Sometime between the evening of Wednesday 29th April and the morning of Friday 1st May 2015, 23 year old Marta; a petite woman with a sweet-smile and a kind heart was beaten unconscious by the man who supposedly loved her – Tomasz. In a sustained assault, lasting anywhere between a few minutes, a few hours or even a few days, in a rage fuelled by a lethal mix of amphetamines and jealousy, he repeatedly pounded his cowardly fists into the bruised, terrified and swollen face of a woman who was almost a foot shorter than him and half his weight, until she was unrecognisable, having inflicted multiple fractures to her face, hands and ribs.
It was a brutal attack which should have killed her, but didn’t. Believing she was dead, Tomasz pulled from the loft her large black suitcase, wrapped her body in curtains and bin-bags, folded her limbs and torso into the foetal position (her legs pressed tight to her chest, her head tucked into her knees and her arms pushed down to her feet) and stuffed her into the canvas suitcase, zipping it shut, a sprig of her bright red hair peeping out of the top.
How long she remained inside that suitcase? Nobody knows. And after the brutality of the initial assault, being confined in such a constricted airless space may have proved fatal, but what her autopsy couldn’t confirm was (whilst inside the suitcase) whether Marta was dead, dying or unconscious.
In the early hours of Friday 1st May 2015, at 6:30am, Tomasz wheeled the three-foot high and two-foot wide, black canvas suitcase, out of his front-door at no 5 Buckingham Road, along the residential street (full of families, postmen and eager commuters) almost an hour after sunrise, and dragged it left towards Nightingale Road and right onto Scrubs Lane, its plastic wheels buckling under the weight.
Amazingly, he wasn’t stopped, spotted or arrested. But then again, what’s so unusual about a man frantically dragging a weighty suitcase towards Willseden tube station? Nothing. Nothing at all. And so, as he lugged the over-loaded luggage more than half a mile down Scrubs Lane, passed passing motorists and CCTV camera, as he reached the top of Old Oak Bridge, he hauled the heavy baggage, down onto the towpath, out of view, and into the quiet and seclusion of the Grand Union Canal.
Unlike Little Venice, this stretch of the canal doesn’t attract the tourists, boats or even people; it’s an ugly eye-sore in an industrial part of town, and with his evil actions disguised by the dark shadows of the Old Oak Bridge, as well as the buzz of traffic, the rumble of trains and the drone of a nearby waste recycling facility, Tomasz was unseen and undisturbed as he sunk the suitcase into the canal.
As before, having been beaten, trapped and dragged over half a mile in an almost airless suitcase, once again, the autopsy couldn’t confirm whether – as the suitcase was submerged into the water – if Marta was dead, dying or unconscious. But having brought along a long stick, just in case, Tomasz proceeded to prod the large dark suitcase, causing air-bubbles to rise to the surface, as the body of his girlfriend sunk further under the water into the inky blackness.
Having destroyed her bank cards and Polish ID, by cutting them up and burning the tatty fragments on the towpath; with his trousers being soaking wet, Tomasz returned home to 5 Buckingham Road, got changed into a clean set of clothes, and then headed off to work, as if nothing had happened.
People disappear all the time. So I guess he thought that no-one would notice. I guess he thought he had covered his tracks. And I guess he was arrogant enough to think he could bluff his way out. But what he hadn’t counted on was – with red-headed Marta being so friendly, popular and easily recognisable – that the moment she wasn’t there, people noticed.
Using her mobile, Tomasz updated her Facebook profile, concocted a story for her friends and family that Marta had left him, packed-up and returned to Poland, having added the unlikely coda that he wasn’t going to follow her, as “he wanted to give her some space”. Even going so far as to text Marta’s boss at the Polish deli, using Marta’s phone and identity, and (in an entirely contradictory story) to say ”I'm sorry, I have to go back to Poland, my mum is sick”, which he had done, before she was dead.
But her mother (Ewa) wasn’t sick.
On Thursday 30th April 2015, having not received her daily phone call from her daughter for two days, Ewa was worried, and getting no reply from either of Marta’s phones, she called Tomasz. Blatantly lying to her distraught and desperate mother, Tomasz (playing the part of the love-sick boyfriend) told her that he had kissed Marta goodbye, she went to work, and when he returned home, she had gone. He didn’t know why. He texted her, but she didn’t reply. And all of which he said to Ewa as lying beside him was her dead, dying or unconscious daughter folded-up in a large black suitcase.
With Tomasz being unwilling to look for Marta, having claimed that she needed space, time to think and that she would come back when she was ready, Ewa contacted Madga & Andrzej Ligman, her cousins who lived in the UK, who fruitlessly searched everywhere they thought Marta could be.
And as Magda & Andrzej desperately combed the city streets, eager to find missing Marta, Tomasz couldn’t help but be the cold, callous and self-absorbed bastard that he always was, as using his dead girlfriend’s phone and her identity, he pestered Anna Modrezejewska (Modrey-eve-ska) (who was Marta’s closest friend) with an uncharacteristic volley of texts, which not only suggested that Marta was alive, but that the 22 year old attractive brunette should join them for some “hot fun” in a three-way sex session. Being creeped out and uncomfortable, Anna ignored the messages, but the texts kept on coming.
On Monday 11th May 2015, a full day after the discovery of Marta’s unidentified body in the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice, following pressure from her distraught family, Tomasz Kocik finally reported his girlfriend missing, almost two weeks after she was last seen alive. And naturally, Tomasz was the Police’s prime suspect.
That same day, 34 year old Tomasz Kocik of 5 Buckingham Road (Harlesden) was arrested and charged with the murder of 23 year old Marta Ligman, with all of the evidence pointing to him being a man who was jealous, controlling and abusive. And yet, throughout these years of systematic emotional, mental, sexual and physical abuse, at the hands of an unloving, uncaring and drug-fuelled sadist, Marta never spoke up, she never sought help, she never told her family and she never got out.
Marta had a dream, it began three years earlier back in the small village of Trzeciewiec (Chetsieviets) in north central Poland, as she her packed her worldly possessions into a large black suitcase.
At the inquest held at the Old Bailey, Pathologist Dr Nathaniel Cary concluded that, because bruising can only occur when a person’s heart is beating and their blood is circulating, as Marta’s body showed signs of hypothermia having been subjected to the cold for an extended period of time, and as her death was caused by "a blunt trauma to her torso and limbs”, that this injury may have been sustained in the initial frenzied attack by Tomasz, being beaten whilst in the suitcase, being dropped as the case was dragged half a mile, or (having been submerged) that her body was hit and driven-over by a canal-boat… suggesting that throughout the entire ordeal, that she may have been alive.
Having given his testimony that Marta had died of an accidental overdose after a four-day drug-fuelled bondage sex-session, an event which may have led to Marta’s death being recorded as “death by misadventure” and Tomasz being sentenced to the lesser charge of “the unlawful disposal of a body”, but the jury didn’t believe his lies, and having deliberated for less than a day, Tomasz Kocik – an obsessively jealous and controlling boyfriend with a long history of violence - was found guilty of murder on 27th November 2015. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of 18 and a half years.
On Tuesday 8th March 2016, to mark International Women’s Day, Labour MP Jess Phillips paid tribute in Parliament to the Counting Dead Women Project; an organisation set up to share the harrowing stories of murdered women. She stated “In 2015 a woman was murdered in the UK every three days. Women murdered by men that they should have been able to trust. Commonly women are murdered by their partners, husbands and boyfriends – but also in some cases by their fathers, their sons, their brothers. We wish to give voice to honour the women who died”. (PLAY AUDIO)
One of the 120 women she named… was Marta Ligman.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse (whether a man, a woman or a child), if you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, or you have inflicted violence against a loved one, never be afraid to speak out, as professional help is only a phone-call away.
Normally at this point in the podcast, I draw your attention my recommended true-crime podcast of the week, but having heard such a harrowing and heart-breaking story, the last thing you want to hear is about a show where they sink back a few beers, say “dude” and “bro” every six seconds and take the piss as they recant some scant details about a victim’s misfortune. Well, thankfully that’s exactly what we don’t have. This week, I highly recommend a true-crime podcast called Dark Divide; hosted by Krista, not only is it well researched, well-written and wonderfully told, but these are incredibly personal pieces of storytelling, told from the victim’s perspective, with a sense of warmth, compassion and heart. And here’s the promo for Dark Divide. (PLAY PROMO)
Don’t forget to check out the Murder Mile website at murdermiletours.com, find us on Twitter or Instagram, or join the Murder Mile True-Crime Podcast discussion group on Facebook.
A quick thank you this week to some fabulous people who have left reviews of Murder Mile and have been truly fabulous on social media, they include; Andy Chidlow Parish, Mike Featherstone, Erikka Pappas, Mykeff, BrianMcG, MidnightListener, VanessaH, PhoebeSophie and D1611984. With loads of fabulous five star ratings from listeners in the UK, USA and Australia, but (oddly) no iTunes reviews from anyone in Canada? Hmm. This wasn’t because of episode 16 (about Richard Rhodes Henley) was it? I’m not implying you’re all chronic masturbators. Just… a few.
And of course a quick shout-out to our good friends at True-Crime Story-Time, you’ve heard me mention this podcast before, and rightly so, check them out, it’s a fabulous true-crime podcast which just keeps bettering better and better.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Next week’s episode… is part three of our canal killing series, this time featuring the mysterious death, disappearance and disposal of Paula Fields
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed by Kai Engel, as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0. A list of tracks used and the links are listed on the relevant transcript blog here
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, therefore mistakes will be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken. It is not a full representation of the case, the people or the investigation in its entirety, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity and drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, therefore it will contain a certain level of bias to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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