Killer built ‘makeshift coffin’ to dispose of body

Victim Maciej Ciania
Victim Maciej Ciania
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A KILLER who built a “makeshift coffin” after murdering his flatmate intended to use the container to smuggle the body away for disposal, detectives said today.

Grzegorz Gamla was yesterday jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years for the murder of his friend Maciej Ciania at their flat in Dickson Street, Leith.

Grzegorz Gamla was jailed for a minimum of 13 years

Grzegorz Gamla was jailed for a minimum of 13 years

The 26-year-old, who worked as a catering assistant, used a set of DIY tools to try and build a wooden box to conceal the body.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie said the inquiry team believed that Gamla planned to take away the body in the coffin in a bid to hide his horrific crime.

Officers believe Gamla may have been “disturbed” during the building process by other flatmates returning home and fled before he could complete his plan.

A jury heard that Gamla killed his 34-year-old victim, a fellow Pole, over alleged unpaid household bills of a few pounds.

Police attend the scene of the crime at Dickson Street

Police attend the scene of the crime at Dickson Street

But DCI Hardie believes that “we’ll never know the reason why it happened”, describing the murder as the savage end of a friendship that went “horribly wrong”.

Gamla, who had claimed he was acting in self-defence, was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday after a jury last month found him guilty of stabbing and slashing Mr Ciania 37 times on January 13 last year.

DCI Hardie said: “There is a general consensus that he tried to put the box together with the intention of moving the body out the flat. Our team went through hypothetical scenarios and it seemed likely that he was building a makeshift coffin, but again we’ll probably never know for sure.

“It’s a busy area and he was probably trying to move the body without being seen.

“It may have been that he was disturbed in the flat and gave up on making it.

“Under interview Gamla said little else but ‘no comment’. He seems quite an insular individual. It was not our task to assess his personality but obviously he carried out an extremely violent attack.

“The men were friends but it’s clear that something went horribly wrong. There have been suggestions that there was a dispute over an unpaid bill, but I don’t think we’ll ever know the reason it happened.”

After fleeing the Leith flat, Gamla initially took a ferry from Stranraer to Belfast 
before moving onto Dublin and then flying to Warsaw.

DCI Hardie said: “After the victim’s body was discovered, Gamla was very quickly a person of interest to us. There was a great deal of forensic work going on at the flat and it took a while to identify what had happened.

“The force has established excellent relationships with members of the Polish community in Edinburgh and they proved invaluable in this investigation. If anything those relationships have grown stronger since the inquiry.

“Justice has been done in this case. The sentence reflects the severity of the attack.”

Sentencing him yesterday, Lord Pentland told Gamla: “It is clear that this was a sustained and savage onslaught pressed home with ruthless determination.”

The judge added the victim’s relatives had suffered “terrible anguish” as a result of Mr Ciania’s death.

Gamla will be deported when he is eventually released.

Polish police praised for help

GRZEGORZ Gamla was arrested at a relative’s house by Polish police just hours after detectives from Edinburgh requested a warrant for his arrest.

Gamla, who had lived in Edinburgh for around three years, fled to Warsaw after murdering his flatmate Maciej Ciania.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie today praised the help given by their counterparts in Poland to capture Gamla and bring him back to Scotland to face trial. He said: “We were quickly able to determine that Gamla had fled to Poland. We were given excellent assistance from the Polish authorities and without them we would not have been able to extradite Gamla to face justice.”