Sheffield Crown Court: Murderer faces life sentence after beating man to death after night of booze and cocaine
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Sheffield Crown Court heard during a trial how Steven Ling, aged 38, of Park Drain, Westwoodside, Doncaster, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mateusz Chojnowski after his victim was found badly injured behind The Salutation Inn, on South Parade, near Doncaster city centre.
But on Tuesday afternoon, December 13, a jury found Ling guilty of murdering the 28-year-old Polish man and he will be sentenced later this month.
Prosecuting barrister Richard Thyne KC previously told the jury that Ling had claimed to have seen Mr Chojnowski in his parked Audi SQ7 car at the back of the pub in the early hours of July 2 allegedly stealing money before they became involved in a fight.
Mr Thyne added: “The violence which he used, some of which was captured on the CCTV, was brutal and involved multiple blows – including kicks and or stamps - delivered with severe force. It was an act of sustained retribution which continued even towards the end of the incident when the deceased was lying on the ground, severely injured.”
Ling had claimed he had not intended to cause Mr Chojnowski any serious harm. He admitted manslaughter claiming the two of them had been involved in a ‘fight’ after he had tried to stop the deceased stealing from his car, and he claimed he had not intended to cause Mr Chojnowski any serious harm.
The defendant, who told police he is a family man who runs a business, had gone out that evening with two friends and they left the Salutation Inn after midnight and went to the Guest Steakhouse and Lounge until 2.30am before his friends caught a taxi home, according to Mr Thyne.
The defendant further told police: “I was drunk by the time I left my friends and the only reason I went back to the car was to get my house key. When I left home I had £2,000 with me. I split this, putting £1,000 in my wallet and I left the other £1,000 and my passport in a pocket in the car.
“As I approached my car I immediately knew something was wrong. I could see the interior light was on. When I got to the car there was a male who I would describe as in his twenties. When he spoke he had a foreign accent. I challenged him and we ended up fighting.”
Ling also told police that after the incident he had panicked and left the area but when he learned a man had died he felt “devastated” and arranged to hand himself in at Doncaster Police Station.
Mr Thyne said it is likely Mr Chojnowski stole money after he was seen on CCTV counting something and he added there had been a previous incident in June when someone reported that Mr Chojnowski had been found sleeping in a parked car.
He also reminded the jury during his closing speech that Ling had said that he had drunk alcohol and had taken some cocaine prior to the incident.
Ling was captured on CCTV near The Salutation Inn and on another camera, according to Mr Thyne who claimed Mr Chojnowski ended up on the ground before the men moved to a substation wall and the defendant delivered punches, kicks and or stamps until they both moved out of camera shot.
Mr Thyne had also said that the defendant repeatedly walked around a grassed area and returned to Mr Chojnowski and repeatedly assaulted him again and just before 4am the defendant approached a figure on the ground one last time before driving away.
Two homeless people found Mr Chojnowski and one of them alerted the police but Mr Chojnowski later died in hospital.
A post mortem examination revealed Mr Chojnowski suffered bruises, facial fractures, a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, rib fracturing, collapsed lungs and severe abdominal injuries.
The judge – Mr Justice Lavender – told Ling his case would be adjourned until December 20 when the defendant will be sentenced.