A high-flying university student has been cleared of taking part in a railway station brawl which led to a young man being crushed to death by a train.
Adam Kulikowski, 20, of Dukes Close, Cranleigh, walked free from Guildford Crown Court on Tuesday afternoon (Feb 11) after being unanimously acquitted by a jury of affray.
Mr Kulikowski, a student at Imperial College, London, had denied the charge – insisting that he had tried to act as a peace-maker in the melee which ended with the death of 22-year-old Ryan Harrison.
Mr Harrison was punched at Guildford Railway Station by a friend of Mr Kulikowski’s shortly before midnight on March 30 last year (2013) and fell on to the railway tracks where he became trapped between the platform edge and a moving train.
Two of Mr Kulikowski’s co-defendants, who also denied affray, were unanimously found guilty.
Harry Miller and Jack Hardy, 20, both from Guildford, were remanded in custody until Friday this week (February 14) for pre-sentence reports.
They are expected to be sentenced alongside Joshua Elphick, also 20, from Guildford, who has been in custody after pleading guilty to affray and the manslaughter of Mr Harrison.
Mr Kulikowski’s acquittal came at the end of a six-day trial during which he told the court how he tried to defuse the situation and became ‘embroiled’ in the disturbance only after being attacked by Mr Harrison and his friend 21-year-old Joel Parish.
“I don’t like violence and I’ve never been in a fight with anyone before,” he said.
The court heard that Mr Kulikowski was a ‘high academic achiever’, having gained four ‘star’ A level passes before going on to study chemical engineering at Imperial College, London.
One character referee, psychology lecturer Michael Dunn, 61, wrote, saying: “I have watched Adam grow from a young boy into a well-adjusted young man.”
He said he found the case ‘shocking and unbelievable’.
Mr Dunn said: “I find it difficult to believe that Adam would instigate an incident like this. He would be more likely to defuse such a situation.”
He said the tragic death of Mr Harrison had had a very detrimental impact on Mr Kulikowski.
In another written reference, Andrew Johnson, a fellow student at Imperial College, who has shared accommodation during term time with Mr Kulikowski said: “We’ve yet to fall out. Adam is an unfailingly kind person. When we go out drinking, he is always friendly.”
Mr Johnson added: “We’ve never been in a confrontation with each other, let alone with anyone else.”
Earlier in the trial, the court was told how Mr Kulikowski had been left traumatised by Mr Harrison’s death and was now on medication for anxiety and depression.
In a police interview read out at the trial at Guildford Crown Court, Mr Kulikowski said: “I’m so sorry that Mr Harrison died in these circumstances. My thoughts have been with his family and friends.”
The court heard that two groups of young men had clashed just before midnight on March 30 last year (2013) after the late Mr Harrison had compared a member of the rival party to Gollum – a bizarre fictional character from famous fantasy novel Lord of the Rings.
Mr Kulikowski told police officers that he had tried to act as a peace-maker.
In a prepared statement, he said: “I regret I was unable to defuse the situation. I regret I became embroiled in a small part of it.”
Mr Kulikowski, who also answered police questions, acknowledged during that his group of seven men and two women was bigger than the one consisting of Mr Harrison and Mr Parish.
“I agree that they were outnumbered,” he said.
But Mr Kulikowski said: “I got kicked in the chest. I hit Mr Parish a few times. He was on the floor. I was also on the floor. I then walked away. I then saw Mr Harrison about to hit me so I hit him lightly in the face. It was more of a jab really. I just wanted him to back off. I didn’t want to fight.”
He then saw Mr Elphick hit Mr Harrison – a blow which had a tragic outcome.
Mr Kulikowski said the tragedy left him frozen with horror at the scene.
“I was in shock. We were all scared and didn’t know what to do,” he said.
Up to then, he said, it had been a minor argument which had developed into a bit of a scrap.
He added: “I had no intention of causing Mr Harrison or his friend any harm.”
Giving evidence from the witness box in his defence on Thursday (Feb 6), he was asked by his defence counsel James Tilbury if he had gone out looking for a fight that night.
Mr Kulikowski replied: “Definitely not. I’ve never been in that sort of situation before. It was chaotic.”
He said he struck Mr Parish twice to remove himself from a pile of bodies on the platform. And he had jabbed at Mr Harrison in self-defence.
The court heard that Mr Kulikowski had never been in trouble with the law before.