Wales

Bala: Branislav Gula killing - Julius Hecko jailed 10 years

  • 21 June 2013
  • From the section Wales
Branislav Gula
Branislav Gula was a 'peaceful, caring man' said his family

A drunken Slovak who punched and stamped on a fellow countryman has been jailed for 10 years for manslaughter.

Julius Hecko, 23, attacked Branislav Gula, a keen musician who spoke 14 languages, at a flat in Bala in Gwynedd in November.

The bakery worker was cleared of murder but convicted of killing the 42-year-old by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.

The judge said it had been a brutal and sustained attack of "utmost ferocity".

Two men and a teenage girl have also been convicted of charges connected to the killing.

The six week trial heard that Mr Gula died from severe head injuries at his flat, where blood stains had been found on a radiator and a wall.

Judge Merfyn Hughes QC told Hecko that there had been at least eight stamps to the head and neck in a "brutal and sustained" attack "of utmost ferocity".

"The violence began when for absolutely no lawful justification you punched him in the nose as he was sitting peacefully in his chair," he said.

Defence QC Gregory Bull said Hecko came to Britain in August and wanted to return to Slovakia as soon as possible.

He had been drinking more in Bala because of "enormous emotional strain", the court was told.

Branislav Gula and family
Mr Gula's family said they had struggled to come to terms with his death

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Gula's two brothers, Milan and Peter said: "This has been a sad chapter in our lives, something that we have all struggled to come to terms with and we will never forget the fond memories."

His family described him as a talented musician, who could play the guitar, piano, drums and harmonica.

He had travelled extensively across the world, and could speak 14 different languages.

His family said he was a "peaceful, caring man, never violent".

'Rare crime'

Richard Vanstone, 44, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, had denied assisting an offender and Mark Roberts, 37, of Dolgellau, denied perverting justice. Jodie Jackson, 18, from Corwen, was convicted of assisting an offender.

Vanstone has been handed an 18-month prison term, while Jackson was given eight months youth custody. Roberts was given a 12-month sentence.

Det Insp Andrew Williams said: "This tragic death took place at a time of significant demands upon North Wales Police as an organisation as a result of a number of major incidents during autumn 2012.

"I must emphasise that crimes of this nature are rare, particularly in rural communities like Bala. This investigation was very demanding and I'd like to thank all members of the public who assisted, particularly those from the Slovakian community, who showed great understanding and support.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Branislav Gula."

Stryd Plassey
Police tape near the scene of the killing in Bala in November 2012

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