Man convicted of Bathgate homicide

Mariusz Winiarski was convicted of homicide. Picture; contributed
Mariusz Winiarski was convicted of homicide. Picture; contributed

A male responsible for the death of a man in West Lothian last year has been convicted

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Brian Stirling was killed. Picture; contributed

Brian Stirling was killed. Picture; contributed

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A man launched a fatal attack on a stranger after he was put out a nightclub where he had been caught going into male toilets with a woman.

Mariusz Winiarski lashed out with a single punch which killed Brian Stirling following the assault in King Street, Bathgate, in West Lothian.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Mr Stirling (54) had been holding the woman’s handbag before Winiarski attacked him.

Defence counsel John Scullion QC said Winiarski, who had been drinking, saw the victim looking into the handbag.

He said: “His initial reaction was the deceased was stealing from her. He accepts the conclusion he reached was entirely wrong and he accepts his reason in punching Mr Stirling cannot be justified.”

He added: “He accepts full responsibility for the tragic consequences of his actions.”

Winiarski (35) was originally charged with murdering Mr Stirling, but today pled guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

He admitted assaulting and killing Mr Stirling, formerly of Whiteside, Bathgate, on December 17 last year by punching him on the head, causing him to fall to the ground where the victim struck his head.

Mr Stirling later died of his injuries.

The Polish national, who worked as a driver, also admitted assaulting Robert Parker, an acquaintance of Mr Stirling, by punching him on the head.

Advocate depute Lynsey MacDonald said Winiarski did not know either of the men that he attacked.

She said Mr Stirling, a baker, had gone to the Dreadnought nightclub in Bathgate on December 16 but while there met Mr Parker who was a regular.

A woman who had been on a works night out had asked Winiarski to join her in a local pub before the pair went onto the nightclub.

Mr Stirling had left the club in the early hours of December 17 with Mr Parker but Winiarski and the woman were also leaving about the same time.

Miss MacDonald said: “They were asked to leave the nightclub after being caught going into the male toilets together.”

Winiarski did not want to go but was escorted from the premises by bouncers.

The advocate depute said the fatal incident was caught on CCTV and footage was shown to the court.

The woman had approached Mr Stirling and Mr Parker as they were walking away from the club and at one stage all three looked inside her handbag. Mr Stirling took the bag and continued to look in it.

Winiarski walked up to Mr Parker and spoke to him before turning to Mr Stirling and grabbing the handbag. Mr Stirling initially held on to it but then let it go.

Winiarski put the bag on the ground before hitting out at the two men. Mr Stirling fell backwards after he was punched and landed on the pavement.

The killer pulled his unconscious victim by the arm into the recovery position and waited until police arrived.

The victim was taken to hospital with bleeding and swelling on the right side of his head. He was found to have a fractured skull and a haemorrhage which caused pressure on his brain. He had also suffered rib fractures from landing on the pavement.

The advocate depute said: “Doctors concluded that surgical intervention was not feasible given the nature of the injury.” The cause of death was recorded as blunt force head trauma.

Mr Scullion said Winiarski was “fully aware of the impact of his actions on those who knew and loved Mr Stirling”.

He said: “He has asked me to take this opportunity to apologise for the continuing pain and suffering he has caused.”

The defence counsel said that although it was a case in which a prison term was “almost inevitable” a background report would be required on the first offender before sentencing.

The judge, Lord Burns, deferred sentence on Winiarski, a prisoner in Addiewell jail, until May and remanded him in custody.

Speaking following today’s outcome Detective Inspector Dave Pinkney from the MIT said: “At no time during this totally unprovoked attack on Brian Stirling did Mariusz Winiarski consider the consequences of his action and this has ultimately resulted in Brian’s tragic death.

“Winiarski’s guilty plea is testament to the overwhelming evidence gathered against him by the Major Investigation Team and spares Brian’s family and fiancée from reliving this horrific ordeal if it were to go to a full trial.

“My thoughts and sympathies are with Brian’s loved ones at this time and I would like to thank them all for their assistance and support during our investigation.”