Man who tried to set fire to Holyrood faces long jail term

The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood. Picture: TSPL
The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood. Picture: TSPL
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A drunk man who caused a terror alert by trying to set fire to the Scottish Parliament with barbecue lighter fluid is facing a jail sentence.

Piotr Swiatek poured fuel over the windows of the parliament building in March, two days after the anniversary of an attack on Westminster, and attempted to light the fluid before he was tackled by armed police.

Swiatek, who had been drinking tequila, travelled from his home in Livingston to the parliament. He was carrying two large kitchen knives when he was confronted.

Swiatek told police he wanted them to kill him and his intention had been to pour the accelerant over his head and set himself on fire.

The Royal Mile next to the building had to be closed off by armed officers due to the suspected terrorist nature of the fireraising.

Swiatek denied the charges against him but was found guilty by a jury of attempting to set the Scottish Parliament on fire on March 24 after a three-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month.

He was also found guilty of knife possession and waving the blade above his head when approached by police.

The 31-year-old returned to court from custody for sentencing yesterday where a sheriff agreed to defer again for a psychiatric report but warned the Polish national he would eventually face “a lengthy custodial sentence”.

Previously the court heard the fire attack on the parliament took place two days after the first anniversary of a London terror attack, in which five people were killed and 50 injured after a man drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.

The court heard armed officers had subsequently been stationed at the Scottish Parliament and that two public demonstrations had been arranged to take place outside the building on March 24 this year.

Swiatek was captured on CCTV making his way from Waverley train station to the bottom of the High Street.

Outside the £414 million building he was seen to take a bottle of barbecue accelerant from his backpack before spraying it over the windows.

Defence solicitor Joe Boyd told the court his client had been drinking heavily beforehand and “his actions were incomprehensible”.