Ex-soldier guilty of head-on-beach murder

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The Independent Online

A former Russian Army soldier was today found guilty of murdering a Lithuanian migrant worker and dumping her mutilated body in the sea.

Convicted killer Vitas Plytnykas, 41, suffocated Jolanta Bledaite at her flat in Brechin, Angus, last March after forcing her to give him access to her savings.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the Lithuanian man then chopped up the 35-year-old's body and dumped the mutilated parts in the sea.

The victim's severed head and hands were found washed up on Arbroath beach by two young girls.

Accomplice Aleksandras Skirda, 20, also from Lithuania, pleaded guilty to murder last October and gave evidence against Plytnykas.



Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Gordon Cryle, of Tayside Police, said: "We are very satisfied with today's verdict upon what was undoubtedly one of the most horrific murders to have been committed in Angus in living memory.



"Jolanta Bledaite's final moments of life must have been filled with terror and dread.



"These evil men showed her no mercy whatsoever, blinded by a callous determination to rob her of her hard-earned savings.



"From everything we have heard, Jolanta was a hard working, conscientious woman who arrived here with aspirations of making a better life for herself. By every account she was a good woman - an innocent victim far from home."



In court, Lord Pentland told Plytnykas he had committed a "truly monstrous and evil crime".



He added: "With chilling composure and determination you put this evil plan into effect.



"Jolanta Bledaite was reading quietly, you burst into her bedroom, forced her to disclose her pin number, and having taken money from her bank account you suffocated her."



He continued: "Jolanta Bledaite must have died in a state of great terror and distress.



"It is clear that her ordeal at your hands must have lasted some considerable time."



He added: "This was a truly monstrous and evil crime.



"I'm left in no doubt that you have absolutely no respect for human life or decency.



"At no stage have you showed the slightest remorse."



Plytnykas sat with his head bowed in the dock.



It can now be reported for the first time that Plytnykas was jailed for seven years and six months at a court in Stuttgart in Germany in June 2001 for killing a man in a knife attack.



The High Court jurors in Edinburgh, who were unaware of his previous conviction, today took two hours and 20 minutes to find him guilty of five charges, including murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.



He was found guilty of attacking Ms Bledaite at Earlsdon House, South Esk Street, Brechin, on March 29 last year, where he bound her, put tape over her mouth and nose and demanded the pin number for her bank cards.



The jury also found he struck her on the head and body, threatened to kill her and put a pillow over her head.



Plytnykas was also found guilty of trying to avoid prosecution for the murder by cutting off Ms Bledaite's hands and head and disposing of them in the sea at Arbroath harbour on the same day and dumping a suitcase containing her body at the same spot the following day.



Plytnykas stole £1,400 from a cash machine using the victim's bank card.



He lodged a defence of alibi, saying he was at his Brechin home or elsewhere in the area on the morning of March 29.



Speaking outside court, family friend Sue Smith read out a statement on behalf of Ms Bledaite's mother, Ona Lazauskiene, and grandmother, Albina Sapalaite.



She said the family was "hoping for a sentence and verdict from Scotland's courts for the cruel murderers' Aleksandras Skirda and Vitas Plytnyks so they can get what they deserve".



She added: "They are also worried that they will be released before serving their full prison sentence and take revenge on them and their relatives.



"They would like to thank the people who bravely gave evidence against the men involved.



"They also thank friends of Jolanta and everyone who cared for Jolanta during her stay in the UK.



"Grandmother Albina also prays to God for the people that found her precious granddaughter's body and hopes that this terrible thing will not affect their health.



"Sadly Jolante's father, Salunas Bleda, died before hearing the outcome of this trial.



"The family have asked for time alone to reflect."



The case has prompted Tory anger over how Plytnykas was able to enter Britain with the authorities apparently unaware of his manslaughter conviction in Germany.



Scottish Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: "This is a truly tragic case, where a convicted killer is able to walk into this country with the authorities being completely unaware of his record.



"Indeed it is not clear that the Crown knew of this man's conviction at the time of his being indicted for this horrific crime."