HMA v ROBERT BUCZEK

At the High Court in Stirling on 17 March 2015, Lord Matthews sentenced Robert Buczek to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 20 years after the accused was found guilty of the murder of Eleanor Whitelaw.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

“Robert Buczek, on 11 July 2014, a hot summer’s day, Eleanor Whitelaw offered you, a stranger, some water and told you that her husband would be back with some biscuits. When her husband did come back, a short time later, he found that a dreadful crime had been committed. In payment for her act of kindness you had brutally assaulted her in her own home, inflicting blunt force injuries on her and striking her repeatedly with a pair of scissors causing such severe injuries that this vulnerable elderly lady died 17 days later.

I saw her husband giving evidence in court and I have read impact statements from their son and daughter. I have no doubt that nothing I can say or do will lessen their grief. It may be for all I know that they can perhaps derive some comfort and even take pride in the fact that Mrs Whitelaw’s last act was to extend a helping hand but they will surely never come to terms with the way in which it was cruelly turned aside.

Not only was this crime an atrocious one but it was also senseless. If your prime motivation was financial, as the evidence appeared to indicate, it is difficult if not impossible to understand why you, a fit young man, had to go to the lengths which you did to overcome her.

You have steadfastly denied involvement in this crime, in the teeth of evidence which was overwhelming and, other than expressing sympathy to the victims of the offence, as the Criminal Justice Social Work report puts it, you have not shown one iota of remorse.

As you know I have to pass a sentence of life imprisonment on you and that will run from 28 July 2014.

In addition I have to specify a period which must pass before you are able to apply for release on Parole licence, that period being known as the punishment part of your sentence Whether or not you are ever released thereafter will be a matter for the Parole Board.

In fixing that period I have had regard to all of the circumstances, including the information in the report and what has been said by Mr McConnachie on your behalf. You have one conviction, if it can properly be called that, but your age at the time and what I know of the circumstances of it render it of little weight in the context of this case.

Given the nature of the attack on Mrs Whitelaw in her own home, albeit an attack which I accept was not pre-planned, it is my judgement that a heavy penalty must be paid by you and I fix the punishment part at 20 years.”