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2 Sentenced in Killing Over Wet Paint

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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Two kebab house customers enraged by wet paint on their clothing have been sentenced to more than five years in prison for beating a delivery man to death and seriously injuring the shop's owner.

John Auld, 59, an Army veteran, died of a heart attack last March after the attack at Kopas Takeaway, a kebab shop in East Lothian, Scotland.

Auld was beaten and punched and his head slammed against a window when he tried to stop an attack on the shop's owner, Brahim Hamouda, authorities said.

John Auld
Family photo

John Auld, an Army veteran, died of a heart attack after he was beaten.

'Wet Paint' Signs and Warnings

Authorities said customers Steven Archibald, 37, and Michael Sutherland, 31, had become angry when they leaned on a freshly painted counter at the restaurant and got wet paint on their clothes.

The shop had been painted that morning, "clearly visible" wet paint signs were posted, and Hamouda had verbally warned the pair to be careful around the paint, authorities said. In addition, a female employee in the shop tried to wipe off Archibald's jacket.

Nevertheless, Archibald and Sutherland, who had been out drinking before they arrived, started to assault Hamouda, punching and kicking him, police said. Auld then tried to intervene, and the two turned on him. Hamouda ran to summon police.

Archibald and Sutherland
Police photo

Steven Archibald (left), 37, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison; Michael Sutherland, 31, who initiated the attack, received six years.

When police arrived, they found Archibald drunk in the street and complaining about paint on his jacket.

'Completely Unjustified, Wholly Deplorable'

The suspects were originally charged with murder, but they pleaded guilty Friday (Feb. 15) to a reduced charge of culpable homicide. Archibald was sentenced to five years and three months in prison; Sutherland, who started the fight, got six years.

"This was a completely unjustified and wholly deplorable episode of violence which resulted in an innocent man losing his life," High Court Judge Lord Uist told the pair at sentencing, according to news reports.

"I accept you did not intend to kill him and that his death was not directly brought about by any of the injuries which you inflicted on him, but by a heart attack caused by the physiological stress of the incident."

Kopas Takeaway, Tranent
East Lothian Courier

Police cordoned off the street outside a kebab house in East Lothian, Scotland, where delivery man John Auld died after a beating over wet paint.

Uist said "considerable violence" had been used against the victim and added: "When you engage in violence of this sort, you never know what the consequences will be."

'Kind and Gentle Soul'

Detective Inspector Gary Boyd called the defendants "cold and callous individuals who were only too happy to resort to violence."

Prosecutors said Auld had completed three tours in Northern Ireland while serving in the Army before becoming a driver in civilian life. He worked as a weekend delivery driver at the kebab house to earn extra money.

Auld's longtime partner described him "as a hard-working and popular family man who would have done anything for her or her children" and as a "kind and gentle soul."

Archibald's attorney said the crime was "wholly out of character" for his client; Sutherland's lawyer said his client's expressions of regret were "undoubtedly genuine," according to reports.


Tagged categories: Fatalities; Health and safety; Interior coatings; Maintenance + Renovation; Restaurants

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