Man who attempted to set fire to Scottish Parliament jailed
A KNIFE-WIELDING drunk who sparked a terror alert by attempting to set fire to the Scottish Parliament has been jailed.
Piotr Swiatek poured fuel over the windows of the building and attempted to light the fluid before he was tackled by a brave police officer.
Swiatek pulled a large knife from his jacket as the officer approached him but he was quickly taken to the ground and disarmed by the courageous cop.
The attempted arson attack in March this year took place just after the one-year anniversary of the Westminster Bridge attack and armed police quickly swarmed the area closing off streets including the capital’s historic Royal Mile.
Following the incident Polish national Swiatek told police he wanted officers to kill himself and his intention had been to pour the accelerant over his head and set himself on fire.
Swiatek, 31, denied the three charges against him but was found guilty by a jury following a three-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August.
And yesterday (FRI) Swiatek returned to the city court for sentencing and was jailed for a total of 30 months by Sheriff Gordon Liddle.
Sheriff Liddle told Swiatek he had caused “a major security alert” and that he had acted in “a dangerous and cavalier way” by spraying the parliament’s windows with the accelerant.
The sheriff added: “There was no way the authorities could know whether they were dealing with a terrorist incident.
“I am sure the members of the public, at that busy place on a Saturday, were alarmed. There was a great commotion and a part of the High Street was closed to the public.
“Many security personnel were involved in the aftermath before an all clear could be given.”
Swiatek was found guilty of attempting to set fire to the Scottish Parliament, possessing two knives in public and holding a blade above his head when approached by police officers, all on March 24 this year.
Previously the court heard Swiatek had been drinking heavily in the weeks leading to the incident before making his way from his home in Livingston to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station.
He then made his way down the Royal Mile to the £414 million Scottish Parliament where he waited until armed officers left the area before making his attempt to torch the building.
An alert officer inside the parliament spotted Swiatek pouring barbecue accelerant over the building’s windows and rushed out to confront the drunk thug.
During the struggle crazed Swiatek pulled a large kitchen blade from his pocket but he was quickly taken to the ground and disarmed by the brave officer.
A second knife was subsequently found tucked inside Swiatek’s trouser band.
The whole incident was caught on CCTV which was played to the jury during the trial at the capital’s sheriff court.
The court was also told the attack 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.
The court heard armed officers had subsequently been stationed at the Scottish Parliament, and that two public demonstrations had also been arranged to take place outside the building on the same day Swiatek struck.
Yesterday defending solicitor Joe Boyd told the court his client had been drinking heavily leading up to his attempted fire-raising and that “his actions were incomprehensible”.
Mr Boyd said stress had been a factor as Swiatek had lost his employment, his marriage had broken down and he was struggling financially.
But ultimately the brief said his client had offered no real explanation as to why he had carried out the attack.
Swiatek had previously admitted a separate charge of drink driving after he was caught behind the wheel with 60mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath at Maybury Drive, Edinburgh, on March 14 this year.
Sheriff Liddell banned him from driving for 38 months and fined him £900.