Drunk in parliament fire bid faces ‘lengthy’ jail sentence

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Laura Paterson/PA Wire
The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Laura Paterson/PA Wire

A CRAZED drunk who sparked a terror alert by attempting to set fire to the Scottish Parliament building just two days after the anniversary of an attack on Westminster is facing a jail sentence.

Piotr Swiatek poured fuel over the windows of the parliament building and attempted to light the fluid before he was tackled by armed police officers.

Swiatek, who had been drinking tequila that morning and had travelled from his home in Livingston to the parliament was also carrying two large kitchen knives when he was confronted.

Following the incident Swiatek told police he wanted them to kill him and his intention had been to pour the accelerant over his head and set himself on fire.

The Royal Mile then had to be closed off by armed officers due to the suspected terrorist nature of the fireraising.

Swiatek denied the charges against him but was found guilty by a jury of attempting to set the Scottish Parliament building on fire on March 24 this year following a three-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month.

He was also found guilty of knife possession and to waving the blade above his head when approached by police officers.

The 31-year-old returned to court from custody for sentencing yesterday where a sheriff agreed to defer again for a psychiatric report but warned the Polish national he would eventually face “a lengthy custodial sentence”.

Previously the court heard the fire attack on the parliament took place just two days after the one-year anniversary of the London terror attack where five people were killed and 50 injured after a man drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

Swiatek had been drinking heavily in the days leading up to him travelling to Edinburgh and he was captured on CCTV making his way from Waverley station to the bottom of the High Street.

Once outside the building the Polish national was seen to take a bottle of barbecue accelerant from his backpack before spraying it over the windows.

Sheriff Gordon Liddle said: “He set off that morning with a rucksack that contained a bottle of accelerant and the means to ignite it. He also had two kitchen knives.

“That suggests to me a man with a purpose. We next see him on video walking down, with a jaunty gait, the High Street.”

The sheriff noted Swaitek had “paid close to attention to armed police” who were doing rounds outside of the building.

He then attempted to start the blaze after the two officers had walked out of sight.

But an eagle-eyed policeman inside the parliament building spotted the Pole and raced outside to confront him.

Sheriff Liddle added: “That officer said he saw flames and when he came out to challenge him your client immediately pulled a large kitchen knife from inside his jacket and held it above his head.

“The police officer was particularly brave and took him to the ground.”

Sheriff Liddle told Swaitek: “You are not going to escape a lengthy custodial sentence – the only question is how long.”