A man who killed his friend in a brutal knife attack in the home they shared was today jailed for nine years.
Bohdan Cieslar, 60, inflicted major wounds to Aleksander Smerdel’s chest, damaging his heart, and to his arm in the fatal assault at a high-rise block of flats in Aberdeen.
A judge told Cieslar he must have been close to his victim when he stabbed him and Mr Smerdel clearly attempted to ward off his blows because of further injuries to his hands.
Lord Pentland said he accepted Cieslar’s relationship with the victim was “a challenging and unstable one” and the deceased could become aggressive and bullying when intoxicated.
The judge said Mr Smerdel had come into Cieslar’s bedroom uninvited after drinking heavily.
He said: “You have expressed remorse and have some insight of the impact of your crime on others.”
Cieslar, was originally charged with murdering Mr Smerdel, 44, after repeatedly striking him on the body with a knife at 58 Donside Court on December 27 last year.
He denied the crime and claimed that he acted in self-defence after he was attacked by the deceased.
During an earlier trial at the High Court in Edinburgh a jury rejected his defence of self defence and accident, but convicted him of the lesser crime of culpable homicide.
The trial heard the pair had “a bit of a love-hate relationship” prior to the fatal attack.
Mr Smerdel, who worked as an upholsterer, left family in his native Poland, the court was told.
Following the knife attack the victim was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but was found to be unresponsive.
Former driver Cieslar said Mr Smerdel was a strong man, who was taller, heavier and younger than him. He said: “He has assaulted me so many times. I never even hit him back, nothing.”
He claimed that at at the time of the killing the victim went to grab him by the neck and he fell onto a computer table while he had a knife in his right hand.
He said Mr Smerdel lost his balance and fell next to him and he thought the blade went into his stomach.
The injury to the victim’s arm occurred when he got back up and went to strike him as he tried to shield his head, still holding the knife, he claimed.
Cieslar told the court that he would never think of taking Mr Smerdel on in a fight.
He was asked whether he struck him with the knife in the fatal incident and replied: “According to everything, yes.”
He said: “I wasn’t aware It was fatal. I thought he was maybe on his way to pick up tools. He attacked me in the past with these.”
“I was in shock. It just took a split second to turn my whole life around,” he said.
Cieslar said he was upset and panicking but tried to call the police and ambulance.
Cieslar, who has previous convictions for assault, stalking and threatening behaviour, later told a police officer: “I didn’t murder. He murder me.”
Allan Smith, a former employer of both men, said Mr Smerdel was a man “who had his demons”.
He was asked how the pair generally got on and said: “They had a bit of a love hate relationship in my opinion.”
Defence counsel Ian Duguid told the court that Cieslar has never previously served a prison sentence.
“He has been convicted of, and carries the responsibility of, killing someone whom, notwithstanding their difficulties, he still considered as a friend,” he said.
Mr Duguid said: “At the end of the day these two persons ended up in a conflict which took place in the accused’s bedroom in the very early hours of the morning at a time when the deceased had been heavily under the influence of alcohol.”
“These are unusual circumstances and an unusual combination of two personalities coming together,” he said.