Cumbria

Murder victim Piotr Kulinski named future killers in police call

  • 24 May 2013
  • From the section Cumbria
Piotr Kulinski
Factory worker Piotr Kulinski suffered seven wounds

Two weeks before Piotr Kulinski was stabbed to death outside his Carlisle home, he made an anonymous phone call to police, naming the men who would go on to kill him.

He was reporting another fight in which he had suffered superficial stab wounds. He blamed a group of men who had been behaving like "gangsters", claiming they were selling drugs and scaring people in the city.

But he told the police call handler he did not want to give his name because he was "worried for his family" and just wanted "to live a happy life".

Two weeks later, just before 06:00 on Sunday 14 October, Mr Kulinski was leaving for work when he was attacked outside his house in Arnside Road.

He suffered seven injuries. Experts said two of them were so severe they were enough to kill him on their own.

Mr Kulinski's partner, Katarzyna Plominska, heard a "terrible noise" and looked out of their bedroom window to see the attack taking place. But it was dark and she could not see the killers clearly.

Cover tracks

All the police had to go on was the nickname of a man Ms Plominska said Mr Kulinski had been having trouble with.

The name given, both by Ms Plominska and Mr Kulinski, was that of Piotr Zygner - the man who dealt the fatal blows, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

He had been with fellow defendant Sylwester Kawalec when the attack happened, while Pauline Mucha had been waiting in the car and drove them away from the scene.

Earlier this week, Zygner and Kawalec, who had denied murder, were convicted and Mucha was found guilty of manslaughter but cleared of murder.

Two other men, Artur Skoczen and Artur Wosczyna, were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Adam Karpuk had previously admitted the same charge.

Sylwester Kawalec, Pauline Mucha, Piotr Zygner
Sylwester Kawalec and Piotr Zygner were found guilty of murder and Pauline Mucha of manslaughter

The suspects worked quickly to cover their tracks. They did not return home but went back to the house of friend Wosczyna. They changed out of the clothes they were wearing and he hid them on cliffs at St Bees.

Their car had been handed over to another man, Karpuk, to dispose of. But police knew the vehicle which belonged to the suspects and spotted it on London Road.

When they stopped Karpuk he had the address where the three main suspects were staying written on a piece of paper in his pocket.

By the evening, officers had all the suspects in custody.

Det Ch Insp Paul Duhig, who led the Cumbria Police investigation, said: "They made it hard for us. It was unusual to have so many people trying to cause problems for the police."

'Protection racket'

In addition to the efforts being made by the suspects to throw police off the scent, officers faced a number of challenges during the investigation.

The language barrier alone meant everything took more time. Each of the suspects had to have a separate interpreter to ensure the investigation was not compromised. The interpreters had to be brought in from elsewhere in the country.

A Polish-speaking special constable proved extremely useful.

There were also numerous scenes that needed forensic examination, from the murder scene itself to the car belonging to the suspects and the house at Ashman Close.

The big break came when Wosczyna told them where he had dumped the clothes. Officers were able to match these with CCTV footage of Zygner, Kawalec and Mucha buying alcohol in a shop the night before.

Blood on the clothes linked the suspects to Mr Kulinski, although the murder weapon was never found.

Throughout the trial both the defence and prosecution alluded to tension between gangs being at the centre of the argument which led to Mr Kulinski's death.

In Mr Kulinski's phone call to the police, he said the accused had "terrorised the Polish community". But the defence alleged the victim was part of a gang running a protection racket.

Det Ch Insp Duhig said: "We have investigated that, but we have not been able to support that it was the case.

"We are certainly not getting the picture of gangs running around carrying out violence."

Officers believe Mr Kulinski died as a result of a falling out between two groups of friends.

The irony, they say, was if he had put his name to that first phone call to police, the outcome could have been very different.

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