Man who set fire that killed OAP jailed for life
A MAN who killed a pensioner by starting a fire at his home has been jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 12 years in custody. Martin Olej, 22, the son of a former policeman, and a friend had gone to John McCulloch’s house in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, to drink, a court heard.
However, Mr McCulloch, 69, fell unconscious on the floor and Olej poured lighter fluid on to the carpet and a chair and set it alight.
A jury convicted Olej, of Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, of murdering Mr McCulloch on 14 August, 2009, and the charge was found not proven against Iain Starrett, 21, of Port Glasgow.
The defence counsel, Donald Findlay, QC, told the High Court in Edinburgh that Olej was a young man “with difficulties”. He had been diagnosed as autistic but “nobody really seems able to make up their mind what form the autism takes.”
Mr Findlay added: “He has not had the right kind of support at difficult stages in his life although, obviously, his family have tried their best. The starting point seemed to have been being bullied at school, largely because he was ‘slow.’ He was autistic but that was not recognised at that stage.”
Olej continued to protest his innocence, insisting that he had not started any fire.
Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice-Clerk, said: “You have been found guilty of the murder of John McCulloch by starting a fire at his house, knowing he was in it and unable to help himself. As far as the court can see, this was unprovoked and followed his generous decision to allow you and the other person to enter the house for the purpose of drinking.”
The judge said he took into account Olej’s psychological difficulties and that he came from a caring and supportive family. He would order that Olej served a minimum of 12 years before he could apply for parole, although it did not necessarily mean he would obtain parole then or in the years immediately following.
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