Glasgow & West Scotland

Martin Olej guilty of murdering OAP John McCulloch

The son of a former policeman has been convicted of murdering a pensioner and setting fire to his home.

Martin Olej attacked 69-year-old John McCulloch at his house in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, on 14 August 2009.

The 22-year-old then doused lighter fluid around his victim and set it alight as he lay stricken on the floor.

Sentence on Olej was deferred at the High Court in Glasgow. The murder charge against co-accused Iain Starrett, 21, was found not proven.

The trial heard how Olej and Starrett - who were both teenagers at the time - had gone to the pensioner's home "for a drink".

Graphic photos

Olej later assaulted the retired welder, knocking him to the ground.

Instead of seeking help for Mr McCulloch, lighter fuel was then poured onto the floor of the living room as he lay helpless.

Olej then lit the liquid and fled the property leaving his victim to burn to death.

The jury was shown graphic photos of Mr McCulloch's corpse which was later discovered in his burnt out home.

Pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner said the OAP's body was "extremely charred" to such an extent any injuries could have been "obliterated".

One fire officer told the trial the remains found were amongst the worst he had seen.

It is thought specialist DNA tests were required to identify Mr McCulloch.

It took until 2011 before Olej, of Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, and Starrett, of Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, were first brought to court.

Olej denied responsibility for the fire and it was claimed he had instead tried to pull Mr McCulloch to safety when he became aware of a blaze.

Prosecutor Michael Stuart - in his closing speech to the jury - said the account was "incredible and untrue" and that Mr McCulloch had been "left to his fate".

Other charge

The killing was not the first fire-related incident involving Olej.

He appeared at Rothesay Sheriff Court in February 2009 where he admitted setting alight a pillar box on the Isle of Bute.

He was admonished on a charge of malicious mischief after his lawyer claimed the fire in May 2008 was down to "crass stupidity".

Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway remanded Olej in custody and deferred sentencing until next month, where he will impose a mandatory life term and set the length of time to be served.

The judge told Olej: "You have been convicted of the crime of murder and there is only one sentence for that."

Olej's father is a retired Strathclyde Police inspector, who was once part of the community safety team based in Greenock.

Mr Olej accompanied his killer son to court every day and repeatedly shook his head as the jury returned its verdict.

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