Kate Zaks
Kate Zaks, 21, art student at University of Kent, found dead in ditch in Krakow last July. Facebook

A polish bus driver who relentlessly beat a 21-year-old British student with a pipe and left her to drown has begged for leniency in court because he "has a wife and family to care for".

Kate Zaks, 21, an art student at the University of Kent was found dead in a ditch in Krakow last July.

A post-mortem revealed she drowned after being hit with the pipe around the head several times and subsequently drowned.

Mirolsaw Lukaszew, 45, admitted killing the student on his arrest and later described in court how he had beaten the girl with a metal brake pipe.

The Polish national then asked the court for leniency, say he had children to look after and financial problems that he needed to resolve.

Lukaszek told the court that the attack was at a time when he was under serious emotional pressure and had cracked under it.

Zak's parents, Gregory and Violetta had flown from their Sussex home for the hearing to witness the killer's trial.

In the bus driver's account of the killing, Zaks was asleep so he woke her up to ensure she got off at the right stop. He was in a bad mood and an argument broke out, he said

He told the court how he grabbed his shirt and demanded he stop the bus at which point he took a brake pipe from under his driving seat and began hitting her.

"I don't know how many times [I hit her]," he said.

He added: "I thought she was still alive and so I decided to carry on."

Dr Grant Pooke, head of history and philosophy at Ken, paid tribute to the young girl.

"Kate was an exceptionally talented and well liked student in her second year taking a BA Hons degree in the history and philosophy of art."

"She had developed a real gift for journalism and writing, having completed an arts review whilst in Poland. Our thoughts are with Kate's family and friends."

Lukaszek denies murder.