Eleanor Whitelaw murder was ‘robbery gone wrong’

The High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
The High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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A PROSECUTOR yesterday urged a jury to convict Robert Buczek of murdering an 85-year-old woman in her own home.

Alex Prentice, QC, told a jury at the High Court in Glasgow that the killing of Eleanor Whitelaw was a theft which went wrong and Buczek grabbed scissors lying in the hallway and attacked her.

He was making his closing speech at the trial of Buczek, 24, who denies murdering Mrs Whitelaw – known as Norah to her friends and family – by stabbing her in the neck with a pair of scissors at Morningside Grove, Edinburgh, on 11 July, last year.

Mr Prentice told the jury of ten men and five women that there was a compelling circumstantial case against Buczek, a Polish national who came to Britain to find work.

The QC said: “A man called at the door and spoke to Mrs Whitelaw. Something occurred which made that encounter violent, perhaps she tried to get him out of her house.

“The man picked up a pair of scissors and stabbed her in the neck possibly as many as seven times and that caused her to fall.

“That man then dragged her like a ragdoll through her hallway, then he dumped her in a room and left her fighting for her life.”

Mr Prentice told the jury the intruder then wandered round the house looking for items to steal and took stamps and a box containing spoons before leaving the house.

The prosecutor said: “The man who did all that is Robert Buczek and I ask you to convict him of murder.”

He went on: “I don’t suggest that when Robert Buczek went to the house he intended to kill. He didn’t have a weapon with him. His intention was theft, perhaps targeting a vulnerable elderly person.

“Why it was necessary for him to kill, perhaps, we will never know. But the dead never make good eyewitnesses.”

Mr Prentice told the jury that Buczek’s DNA was found in the house and he was seen running away by Mrs Whitelaw’s neighbour who identified him to police. He said Buczek also tried to sell the stamps and when he discovered they were worthless threw them away near where he stayed at Martello Court in Edinburgh.

Mr Prentice said that Buczek was caught because he was ­“careless.”

Defence QC Brian McConnachie told the jury that DNA was “not the golden ticket’ which solved crimes as shown on television and films.

He said: “The finding of DNA in a place is not evidence the person was ever there.”

He described the Crown case as: “Like a cable which is flawed and with the slightest pull flaws will appear.”

Accusing the Crown of focusing on the DNA that suited them and ignoring other DNA, he added: “There was the DNA of an unknown man on the inner right thigh of this 85-year-old woman when she was examined in hospital on 11 July, 2014. The prosecutor says this could have been a member of medical staff treating her without gloves.”

He continured: “She also had three injuries to an area of her private parts. The learned advocate depute asked a pathologist if these could have been as the result of a fall. What kind of fall would you need to have to cause an 85-year-old woman these injuries?”

He told the jury: “Unless your are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt, the verdict you return should be a verdict that acquits the accused.”

Judge Lord Matthews told the jury: “Sympathy for the accused or for the deceased and her ­family must play no part in your deliberations.

“An 85-year-old lady has met her death in her own home and that is very sad, but that must pay no part in your assessment of the evidence.

“You can only convict if the Crown has proved its case to the high standard required. The principal issue is whether the Crown has proved the accused committed this offence.”

Lord Matthews told the jurors that they were under no pressure or time constraints to return a verdict.

He will finish his charge on Monday when the jury is expected to retire to consider its verdict.


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