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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Killers slaughtered victim on Carlisle street

These are the three killers of Polish factory worker Piotr Kulinski, loading up on alcohol for a party the night before they were involved in his slaughter in the street.

Related: Jury retires in Carlisle murder trial

Related: One of biggest trials ever held at Carlisle court

Piotr Zygner, Sylwester Kawalec and Paulina Mucha are caught on CCTV at a Carlisle convenience store as they prepared for a night drinking and eating at a house in Denton Holme ahead of the brutal knifing in Harraby.

Party-goers ate pizza and Polish dumplings, drank beer and vodka and watched football and the film Braveheart on television until the early hours after the trio had visited the Co-op on Denton Street on their way from their house in Currock.

The next morning while it was still dark they went to Mr Kulinski’s Arnside Road home as he prepared to leave for a shift at the city’s Cavaghan & Gray factory.

The 32-year-old father, said to be “loved very much by his family”, lost his life in a fatal stabbing.

Zygner, 30, and Kawalec, 23, who attacked Mr Kulinski, were convicted unanimously by a jury at Carlisle Crown Court of murder – an offence described as a “truly dreadful crime” by senior prosecutors.

Mucha, 26, the getaway driver, was cleared of murder by a majority verdict but convicted unanimously of the alternative charge of manslaughter.

Zygner, Kawalec and Mucha all face lengthy jail terms after after the six-week trial.

The two men sat with their heads in their hands in the dock after the murder verdicts were read. Mucha was at first distraught and in a flood of tears but calm as her fate was finally decided. All three will be sentenced by Carlisle’s top judge, Paul Batty QC, tomorrow.

Two other men, also Polish, were found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in connection with the case. They will also find out their fate tomorrow.

They are Artur Skoczen, 30, of Ashman Close, Denton Holme, Carlisle, and Artur Woszczyna, 44, of Beverley Rise, Harraby, Carlisle.

Zygner, of Currock Road, Currock, Carlisle, was also found guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice while Kawalec and Mucha also of Currock Road, pleaded guilty to this charge.

The verdict was delivered just before 12pm after nearly two days at the end of one of the longest seen in Cumbria.

Judge Batty afterwards excused the jury members from further jury service for life and told them: “You go with the thanks of the city.”

Mr Kulisnki lived at Arnside Road with his partner, Katarzyna Plominska, and their young son.

The trial was told that on the day of his death – October 14 last year – his partner was woken by noise outside their home. She saw him lying on the ground with two men apparently hitting him.

Mr Kulinski was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary, where he died from stab wounds.

The two men who attacked Mr Kulinski were Zygner and Kawalec – and they escaped in a car driven by Mucha.

These three then joined forces with the others to try to prevent the police from solving the crime and to dispose of evidence.

The court heard claims that some of those on trial were in a gang that “terrorised people” in Carlisle.

But Zygner had claimed he owed money to Mr Kulinski and had decided he, Kawalec and Mucha should visit his home the morning after the party so he could give him some of the cash.

Zygner claimed Mr Kulinski had moved to attack him and he had picked up a knife that had fallen to the ground and stabbed Mr Kulinski as he attacked his friend, Kawalec.

Kawalec denied stabbing Mr Kulinski but admitted punching and kicking him.

Mucha said she had not known that they were going to Arnside Road and nor did she know Kulinski – and got behind the wheel because she was told to do so.

Police were called by paramedics. Medical staff could not save Mr Kulinski’s life.

Inquiries after his death in the hunt for his killers led officers to the home of Skoczen in Ashman Close, Denton Holme – the scene of the party – and arrests were made there and in Harraby.

Investigations uncovered CCTV footage from the Co-op shop showing Zygner, Kawalec and Mucha wearing different clothes to when they were arrested. Further investigations led to the discovery of clothes, dumped in bags at St Bees in west Cumbria by Woszczyna.

The court heard blood stains matched the DNA profile of the victim and DNA also linked them to Zygner and Kawalec.

Police investigations revealed Mr Kulinski had spoken repeatedly of trouble he had been having with two men. He had phoned Cumbria police and said he had been having problems with a group of Polish men and was afraid for himself and his family.

In a call in which he refused to give his name, Mr Kulinski spoke of “a group” trying to scare people and selling drugs “like gangsters”, the murder trial heard.

The Polish factory worker also told his partner how he had been in a fight with a man he named as Piotr Zygner and had suffered cuts to his back.

But Zygner claimed in court that Mr Kulinski had supplied drugs, attacked him in the street and had been running a protection racket.

He also said he had paid protection money after receiving threats from people including Mr Kulinski.

Kawalec also said he had experienced trouble with Mr Kulinski, including physical attacks. He told the court that at the time of the fatal incident he did not know Mr Kulinski had been stabbed.

Despite their claims, the jury returned a string of guilty verdicts, sealing their fates. Defence barristers were due to mitigate on behalf of those in the case today.

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