Head discovered on beach leads to murder conviction

Killer guilty of 'monstrous' crime let into UK despite manslaughter conviction
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The Independent Online

The man responsible for the "truly monstrous" murder of a Lithuanian migrant worker whose body was chopped up and dumped in the sea was a convicted killer, it emerged yesterday.

Vitas Plytnykas, 41, was found guilty of suffocating Jolanta Bledaite at her home in the Scottish town of Brechin, Angus, in March last year. The former Russian Army soldier had been allowed into Britain despite serving a prison sentence in Germany for a drugs-related knife murder.

The killer's 20-year-old accomplice, Lithuanian Aleksandras Skirda, admitted his part in the murder in October and gave evidence against Plytnykas, who denied all charges. Both men will be sentenced next month.

The High Court in Edinburgh had heard that the pair murdered Ms Bledaite after tying her up, torturing her and demanding that she hand over her bank details. They then dismembered the 35-year-old's body and dumped the pieces into the sea. Plytnykas also stole £1,400 from a cash machine using his victim's bank cards.

Ms Bledaite's head and hands, which had been sealed in plastic bags, were later found washed up on a beach in Arbroath by two young girls. Police launched a murder investigation and soon recovered the rest of her body, which had been stuffed into a suitcase.

Yesterday, the jury found Plytnykas guilty of five charges, including murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice. Judge Lord Pentland said that the killer had committed "a truly monstrous and evil crime" and had shown no remorse over his actions.

He said: "With chilling composure and determination, you put this evil plan into effect. I'm left in no doubt that you have absolutely no respect for human life or decency."

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."

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."

Ms Bledaite's family said in a statement yesterday that they hoped both Plytnykas and Skirda would "get what they deserve" in the form of lifetime prison sentences. They added that they feared the killers might try to seek some sort of revenge if they were released early.