A Polish national who beat his uncle to death with his bare knuckles in a brutal drunken brawl over missing cash and a bottle of vodka has been sentenced to four years in jail.
Mr Justice Colton told 38-year-old Marek Marcin 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 outside 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uncle on October 22, 2017, at the isolated Co Antrim home they shared at Townhill Road, Rasharkin, the charge was withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to his manslaughter, by an unlawful act, and not by way of diminished responsibility because of his alcoholism.
Sinko will serve four years in custody, followed by four years on 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 the victim's partly clothed body laying on a pathway at the rear of their cottage.
The court heard the victim died from injuries to his brain, but also suffered five fractured ribs, two fractured vertebrae and 14 separate groups of bruising and abrasions.
Mr McDowell said Eugeniusz was subjected to a prolonged and severe assault, and while the injuries to his face were consistent to repeated punching, it could not be proven if they were also caused by kicking, although the rib fractures and bruising 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 occurring after both had been drinking large quantities of alcohol, 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 up the blood in the kitchen and having a bowl of soup and then going to bed.
The court heard Sinko had not realised the seriousness of his uncle's injuries until he found him dead outside the next morning.
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 and did not intend to do.
Mr Greene said Sinko had been looking after his uncle, but given their mutual problem with alcohol, both uncle and nephew should never have been allowed to live together, resulting as it did in Eugeniusz's death.
The court heard Eugeniusz's death was 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.
Mr Greene said what occurred happened because two people, who both had problems with drinking, were living together in a toxic mix which led to violence between the pair.
Mr Green claimed there may have been things said and done by the victim which led to what happened.
Following the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Montgomery from PSNI's Major Investigation Team said: “Eugeniusz and his nephew, Marek Sinko, had got into a fight with each other in their home on the night of Saturday, 21 October 2019.
"Eugeniusz sustained multiple blunt force injuries to his head, chest, back and arms.
"This was a senseless fight between an uncle and nephew which led to the death of Eugeniusz.
"I know that today's sentencing will not bring Eugeniusz back to his family, who have had to live through the nightmare of a nephew having killed his uncle, however, I hope it will bring some level of closure for them."