Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Man admits killing stranger over handbag mistake in West Lothian

Mariusz Winiarski (L) and Brian Stirling (R) Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Mariusz Winiarski (L) attacked Brian Stirling (R) in King Street, Bathgate

A man has admitted killing a stranger with a single punch after he mistakenly thought he was stealing from a woman's handbag in West Lothian.

Mariusz Winiarski, 35, attacked Brian Stirling in King Street, Bathgate, on 17 December last year.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Mr Stirling (54) had been holding the woman's handbag before Winiarski attacked him.

Lord Burns, deferred sentence until May and remanded Winiarski in custody.

Defence counsel John Scullion said Winiarski, who had been drinking, saw the victim looking into the handbag.

He said: "His initial reaction was the deceased was stealing from her. He accepts the conclusion he reached was entirely wrong and he accepts his reason in punching Mr Stirling cannot be justified."

He added: "He accepts full responsibility for the tragic consequences of his actions."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The incident happened on King Street

Winiarski was originally charged with murdering Mr Stirling, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

He admitted assaulting and killing Mr Stirling, formerly from Bathgate, by punching him on the head, causing him to fall to the ground where the victim struck his head. Mr Stirling later died of his injuries.

The Polish national, who worked as a driver, also admitted assaulting Mr Stirling's friend Robert Parker by punching him on the head outside Dreadnought nightclub in Bathgate.

Advocate depute Lynsey MacDonald said Winiarski did not know either of the men that he attacked.

The defence counsel said that although it was a case in which a prison term was "almost inevitable" a background report would be required on the first offender before sentencing.

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