MURDERED pensioner Eleanor Whitelaw was a victim of her own kindness after offering water and biscuits to the man who would prove to be her killer.
Robert Buczek, 24, was out on bail after being charged with knife possession when he went to Morningside Grove one afternoon last summer.
What he discussed with 85-year-old Mrs Whitelaw at her front door is not known, but she was heard to offer him water and say that her husband would be home with biscuits soon.
A short time later, she was left lying in a pool of blood on her floor after being viciously stabbed in the neck seven times with her own scissors.
She was discovered by her horrified husband, who at first believed his wife had suffered a heavy nose bleed and collapsed.
It was only after he tried to make her comfortable by slipping a pillow under her head that 88-year-old Robert Whitelaw realised how dire the situation actually was.
By the time he called an ambulance, Buczek had fled the scene with a box of spoons and a stamp collection he had stolen from the house.
Later, the gambling addict mercilessly dumped the belongings after trying to sell the stamps using a fake name and finding they were worthless.
Mrs Whitelaw suffered irreversible damage to her brain and heart and died in hospital 17 days after she was subjected to the brutal attack on July 11 – which prosecutors suggested in court was a robbery which went badly wrong.
DCI Keith Hardie, who led the murder investigation, said he had been left appalled by Buczek’s callousness.
He said: “It just makes it even more despicable, the fact that she offered him the hand of human kindness, with water.
“It might have been his ploy to get him into the house. There’s also evidence of her offering biscuits to him upon her husband’s return.
“Why it ended up with the murder of Mrs Whitelaw we’ll probably never know.”
It took a jury less than ten minutes yesterday to find Buczek guilty of Mrs Whitelaw’s murder following a week-long trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Buczek showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, before it emerged that he has a conviction in his native Poland for assaulting an elderly woman.
Despite this, Buczek brazenly lied in the witness box when he took to the stand last Thursday, saying: “I’ve never in my life hurt a woman.”
Now he faces life behind bars when he is sentenced in Stirling next month.
Mrs Whitelaw’s husband Robert – who is known as Stan – said that days before the murder he saw a young man watching them and their home, but thought nothing of it at the time.
Buczek, a labourer, had finished work on a renovation project near Morningside Grove, but returned on the day of the attack – July 11, 2014 – to collect wages he was owed.
After leaving there he went to Mrs Whitelaw’s home and attacked her.
He then callously dragged her along the hallway – leaving a trail of her blood – before ransacking the £500,000 Victorian terrace house.
He prowled the house looking for valuables and managed to leave a partial footprint in Mrs Whitelaw’s blood in the upstairs bathroom before fleeing with a collection of Irish stamps and a box containing spoons.
He left Mrs Whitelaw, a mother of two and a grandmother, who was known to her family and friends as Norah, lying covered in blood and badly injured. She was found by her husband who had left the family home, which the couple had lived in since 1965, to go shopping around 3pm.
When he returned about 4.10pm he found the front door locked and was surprised because it was normally left unlocked during the day. He walked round to the rear of the house and went in the back door.
He walked through the kitchen and into the morning room and found his wife lying on the ground.
He said: “I took a cushion and put it under her head because I thought she had fainted after having a nose bleed.
“When I put the cushion down I realised it was more serious. I realised she had a cut to the side of her neck. I called for the ambulance service straight away. I didn’t go far in the hall because it was full of blood.”
Mr Whitelaw was asked if he had noticed anything unusual before his wife was injured and replied: “Just two days before I saw a young man at the bus stop. He was watching us.”
Buczek was caught because his DNA was found on the murder weapon and on a bottle of Volvic water which he left in the hallway.
During the trial, librarian Sara Brown, 38, told the court she saw a young man and an elderly woman talking as she waited for a bus.
She said: “I only heard the woman. She said ‘I’m sorry, I can only give you water, but my husband will be back shortly with some biscuits’.”
The High Court in Glasgow heard that Buczek took the stamps to a dealer in Edinburgh. He gave the false name Robert Meoczak, but left his own mobile phone number.
When he discovered the stamps were worthless he threw them away in the grounds of Martello Court in Muirhouse where he lived. He also dumped the box of spoons nearby.
Police who investigated the crime originally detained Buczek with attempted murder and a sexual offence. This was because Mrs Whitelaw had a small cut and a bruise on her private parts, but the court heard this could have been caused by a fall. A forensic scientist also found traces of an unknown male’s DNA on Mrs Whitelaw’s thigh when she was examined in hospital on July 12.
But prosecutors believe that this came from a member of medical staff who treated her not wearing gloves.
Throughout his trial Buczek denied murdering Mrs Whitelaw and claimed he had never been in her home or spoken to her.
The only clue as to why he carried out the killing came when his defence QC, Brian McConnachie, told the jury that Buczek had a gambling addiction to fruit machines.
Prof Bruce Whitelaw of the Roslin Institute, where Dolly the cloned sheep was created in 1996, is Mrs Whitelaw’s son.
Reaction: ‘It was such a terrible tragedy … I just can’t imagine why it happened’
THE extensive police presence in Morningside Grove after the attack on Eleanor Whitelaw was alien to residents.
Neighbours, many of them elderly or with young families, said they were shocked and “spooked” by the stabbing of their 85-year-old neighbour in her own home.
Mrs Whitelaw was well-known to locals and was often seen waiting at the bus stop outside the house she had shared with her husband for nearly five decades.
Flowers and tributes to Mrs Whitelaw were left outside the property, which was being guarded by police.
Yesterday, residents of the affluent neighbourhood spoke of their relief that her killer had finally been found guilty.
One local resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It was such a terrible tragedy. She was such a friendly old lady and I remember seeing her. Quite often she would come and talk while I was at the bus stop.
“I just can’t imagine why it happened. You can’t get inside the head of such a person and understand them.”
She added: “We have had the occasional burglary but nothing like this. It’s a very quiet district. Thankfully nothing very much happens.
“It was a terrible shock for us all. It certainly made me a lot more careful about whom I opened the door to. This was in broad daylight – you think you’re safe enough to open your door at this time.”
Neighbours said they felt a sense of relief for the Whitelaw family and the wider Morningside community after the trial.
However, others said it had brought back difficult memories of last summer.
One said: “It was a nasty thing. They had lived there a long time.”
A resident in nearby Craiglea Drive, who has lived in the area for 25 years, said the incident had “spooked a lot of people” in the area.
He added: “It was horrific. I am relieved that he has been found guilty, but I hope life means life.”
POLICE BELIEVE BUCZEK WILL NEVER ADMIT HIS GUILT
ROBERT Buczek will never admit that he killed the defenceless 85-year-old woman, police believe.
The 24-year-old failed to convince jury members of his innocence when he took to the stand.
Speaking through an interpreter, he told the High Court in Glasgow: “I’ve never in my life hurt a woman.”
But that was a lie – when he was 14, he pushed over an elderly woman in his native Poland and stole her handbag.
During his evidence, he was asked a series of questions by his own defence QC Brian McConnachie:
Mr McConnachie: “Did you go to Morningside Grove and attack Mrs Whitelaw?”
Buczek: “No. I never went to that house. I was never there.”
Mr McConnachie: “It may be suggested that one explanation [for his DNA being found on the scissors and a bottle] is that you held the scissors while you stabbed Mrs Whitelaw.”
Buczek: “No. Never in my life. I’ve never been there in my life and I never attacked that woman in her house.”
Mr McConnachie: “It could be suggested that you are very unlucky.”
Buczek: “That would be correct.”
Mr McConnachie: “Did you have anything at all to do with the death of this lady?”
Buczek: “No, I never had anything to do with it and I’m very sorry that lady has gone.”
He was asked where he had been between 3pm and 4.30pm on July 11 and replied: “I was either at home or in the West End.”
Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC then took over and asked Buczek how his DNA came to be on the scissors. He replied: “I’m not able to explain that.”
Mr Prentice: “One explanation could be you used the scissors to kill Mrs Whitelaw, do you agree?”
Buczek: “No, it wasn’t me. That’s impossible.”
The prosecutor then told Buczek that the person who did this must look like him, and he replied: “No.”
Mr Prentice: “You went to Morningside Grove, you entered the house and attacked Mrs Whitelaw. You stabbed her several times, you picked up the scissors and stabbed her, you stole stamps and spoons and ran away.”
Buczek: “I have never done anything like that. I was never in her house.”
Mr Prentice: “Why did you have to kill her?”
Buczek: “I don’t see any reason why I would have killed her.”
Defence QC Mr McConnachie then said to Buczek: “It is being suggested that in order to steal stamps and spoons you would have required to stab her seven times.”
He replied: “No, never in my life would I have done anything like that. It would have been stupid to kill a woman for a few stamps.”
DCI Hardie, who led the police investigation, said he believes Buczek will always maintain his stance. He said: “I would say it’s unlikely he’ll ever admit to it – based on what we’ve seen.
“He’s a deluded individual, in denial. It’s difficult to read somebody’s mind.”