Murder #29, Piotr Maculewicz, Shepherds Bush
Piotr Maculewicz, 29, suffered fatal injuries in a fight at his workplace in Shepherds Bush, west London, on Friday 11 March, 2011. Paramedics were called to a garage workshop in the forecourt of Sulgrave Gardens to find him suffering from injuries to his head, face and ribs. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Paval Dunanov, a 28 year-old Ukrainian attacked Mr Maculewicz, a Polish national, during a drunken row at work. On July 9, 2012, a jury cleared Dunanov of murder but convicted him of manslaughter. Dunanov was jailed for seven years.
Most murders seem to happen at night. I toyed with the idea that I should photograph the murder sites at the time the actual murder had occurred. I realised that if I did this I would be photographing a lot in the dark and all the photographs would have the orange glow from the sodium vapor lights that are used for street lighting in most London streets. And I did not want that uniform to the photographs though it did give a certain menacing look to the scene.
I went to Sulgrave Road just south of Shepherds Bush Common late on a Saturday the day after the murder. The sun was going down and police had cordoned off the small tower block of Sulgrave Gardens and were not allowing anyone near except its residents.The forecourt of the building lay on the other side and I could not get anywhere near it. I went to Shepherds Bush Road which overlooked the forecourt and could see forensic officers doing their work next to one of those yellow pop up tents that they set up at every crime scene. But by this time it had gotten dark and I decided to come back the next day.
On my return the next day the police were gone and I could photograph on the forecourt. Again I had come late in the day but I stayed until dark to make my photographs. It was the first set of images I had made in the dark for my project. For once I felt that the night matched the scene. It was also around the same time 2 days earlier that Piotr Maculewicz had been killed. At the time no one knew the name of the victim or much else. It would be a week before he was identified. It was the 4th murder of the 29 I had done so far that involved an Eastern European national. During the next two years of my project more men from eastern Europe would find themselves victims of murder. It reflected the large number of single men from the region that had come to work to London.They would find themselves in situations of sharing flats and houses with a large number of their fellow countrymen. They would be free of the social constraints that families, friends and community provided. Many would find solace in alcohol and many fights that led to a killing were fuelled by alcohol. The court heard that Maculewicz and Paval Dunanov were involved in a fight fuelled by alcohol. I can’t imagine a fight about work getting out of hand to the degree that one person is beaten to death. But like 99% of the murders I could not comprehend the circumstances. I felt alienated from the subject matter at hand and at the same time I was learning fast.
Lastly, it was only my second visit to west London. The east west divide that has always plagued London was making itself very evident in my project. Whatever factors lead to violent crime they were mostly evident on the eastern half of the city.