By Michael Donnelly
Polish national, Marek Marcin Sinko who beat his uncle to death with his bare knuckles in a brutal drunken brawl over missing cash and a bottle of vodka was sentenced today to eight years.
Mr Justice Colton told 38-year-old Sinko that ironically it was him who arranged for his uncle Eugeniusz to move to Northern Ireland, but it appeared theirs was "a toxic and volatile relationship", described by the family as "living on the edge that was a big problem for our family".
"This," added the Antrim Crown Court judge, "was the context in which the fatal assault took place which has resulted in the untimely, unnecessary and unjustified death of your uncle".
Mr Justice Colton said he had no doubt the death had a significant impact on a remorseful Sinko, however, his "assault was prolonged" and on "no account could this be seen as a fight between equals ... nor was it a case where death was caused by a single punch.
"He was no physical match for you and you suffered no injuries during this assault other than to your own knuckles," the judge also told Sinko, adding: "You showed a callous indifference to the fate of your uncle when you left him outisde when the assault was over".
Previously accused of murdering his 63-year-old uncle on October 22, 2017, at the isolated Co Antrim home they shared at Townhill Road, Rasharkin, the charge was withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to his manslaughter, by an unalwful act, and not by way of diminished responsibility because of his alcoholism.
Sinko will serve four years in custody, followed by four years on licenced parole.
Last week prosecution QC David McDowell told the Antrim court, sitting in Belfast, that after the fist fight with his uncle, Sinko cleaned up the blood splattered kitchen before making himself some soup and then going to bed, only to find him dead the following morning.
Having alerted police he then phoned a work-mate, telling him; "I think I've killed him". Police later found Mr Sinko partly clothed body laying on a pathway at the rear of their cottage.
IMAGE: By Alan Lewis. Marek Sinko who was sentenced to eight years at Belfast Crown Court today for the manslaughter of his uncle Eugeniusz Sinko in Rasharkin, County Antrim in October 2017.
The court heard while Mr Sinko died from injuries to his brain, injuries usually associated with a car crash, or fall from a significant height, or assault, he also had five fractured ribs, two fractured vertibrea, and 14 seperate groups of bruising and abrassions, while his nephew had injuries only to his knucles.
Mr McDowell said Mr Sinko was subjected to a prolonged and severe assault, and while the injuries to his face were consitent to repeated punching, it could not be proven if they were also caused by kicking, although the rib fractures and brusing to both sides of the chest were consistent with kicking or stamping with a shod foot.
The court also heard that the uncle and nephew had a history of physical violence between them, often occuring after both had been drinking large quanties of alchol, which often was the case.
During interview Sinko described what had been "a brutal fight" between them, although he initially claimed he'd hit him only once. He also described knocking his uncle to the ground, before challenging him to get up, only to knock him down again.
Mr McDowell said Sinko claimed he left his uncle outside washing his face by a tap, before cleaning cleaning up the blood in the kitchen and having a bowl of soup, and then going to bed. When he awoke the next morning to find his uncle dead outside, and hadn't reaslised the seriousness of his uncle's injuries and that he never menat to kill him.
Defence QC Richard Greene said a remorseful Sinko had always accepted the enormity of what he had done in killing an uncle, something which he bitterly regrets.
Mr Greene said Sinko had been looking after his uncle, but given their mutal problem with alcohol, both uncle and nephew should never have been allowed to live together, resulting as it did in Mr Sinko deatth, described by his son as having the most traumatic affect on the family not only in the loss of a father, but also a cousin.
He added that unfortunately what occured did so because two people with the same problems of drinking and arguing were living together, a toxic mix, in which violence inevidibly went both ways, and that should not have been allowed to continue.
Mr Greene said there may have been things said and done by Mr Sinko snr on that evening which may have been a material element in what happened.