Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Jolanta murderer had killed before

By Denise Glass
Tayside reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Knives used to cut up Jolanta
The knives which were used to cut up Jolanta Bledaite's body

The man convicted of murdering Jolanta Bledaite had killed before, it has emerged.

Vitas Plytnykas was convicted of manslaughter in Germany in 2001 after stabbing a man to death during an argument over money.

He also caused fear among the migrant community in Angus after moving to Scotland.

Plytnykas is now facing life in a Scottish prison after being convicted of murdering fellow Lithuanian Jolanta.

His co-accused Aleksandras Skirda had earlier admitted torturing, robbing and killing the 35-year-old before attempting to dispose of her body.

Jolanta was a quiet, shy woman who had been working hard in the area to raise money for her family back home in Lithuania.

Plytnykas is believed to have been a former army soldier.

In June 2001 he was convicted of manslaughter in Germany and sentenced to seven years and six months in prison. He was deported to Lithuania in January 2005.

Plytnykas came to Scotland with his partner and young child between 18 months and two years before he killed Ms Bledaite.

He came to the attention of police in Angus after committing some low-level thefts.

Aleksandras Skirda came to Scotland with his mother in 2006.

The following year they moved in with Ms Bledaite in Southesk Street, Brechin.

The house in Brechin
The murder was carried out in the flat which Ms Bledaite and Skirda shared

Plytnykas and Skirda knew that Ms Bledaite was saving money and that she wanted to return to Lithuania in the near future, so they planned their crime down to the fine details.

At least a week before the murder they bought the bags they would use to wrap her body.

On 29 March last year, Skirda contacted Plytnykas after a Polish man who also lived in the Southesk Street flat left for work.

Ms Bledaite was in bed reading a book at about 0800 GMT when the pair started to gag and bind her.

Skirda and Plytnykas threatened her and made her give them her pin number.

Ms Bledaite gave them the wrong number - although it will never be known if this was done deliberately or through fright.

Plytnykas left the flat to try the card at a cash machine. He returned when it did not work and the pair made further threats to Ms Bledaite.

That time Ms Bledaite gave them the correct Pin number.

Plytnykas withdrew about 200 and returned to the flat - then Ms Bledaite was murdered.

She was smothered with a pillow before her body was cut up in the bathroom of the house.

A plan that had been devised was followed to the letter - it's chilling
Det Ch Insp Graham McMillan

Her head and hands were put inside a Lidl carrier bag.

Her body was put into a suitcase.

The pair wanted to make it hard to identify the remains if they were ever found.

They then threw three knives into the River South Esk, destroyed Ms Bledaite's personal documents and took her belongings from the flat.

The murderers were trying to make it look like she had returned to Lithuania.

In the afternoon, they took a bus to Arbroath where they threw the Lidl bag into the sea.

The next day they returned to the town and threw the suitcase into the water.

Over the next few days, they used Ms Bledaite's bank card to withdraw money in Dundee, Forfar and Montrose.

Police and the prosecution said the pair thought they had committed the perfect murder.

However, on 1 April Ms Bledaite's head was found washed up on the beach by two sisters, aged eight and 11.

A massive police investigation was launched, and on 4 April Plytnykas and Skirda were arrested.

Det Ch Insp Graham McMillan said: "They were both very calm, unperturbed, quite relaxed.

Beach search
Police launched an intensive investigation after the head was found
"They assisted us as much as they could in the stories that they had clearly concocted to cover their true actions. Quite callous and unperturbed."

He added that the pair had not shown any sign of remorse.

"None at all. Throughout the whole investigation there had been no signs of emotion from either man," he said.

He admits that if Ms Bledaite's head had not been found the pair might have got away with murder.

"We were unaware that anything had happened," he said.

"The circumstances of Jolanta's plans to move away from Angus, probably back home, were looming.

"I don't think anybody would have found it particularly suspicious that she had left the area without perhaps announcing her departure.

"I think probably the first notification we would've got would perhaps have been a family member reporting her as a missing person."

Det Ch Insp McMillan was shocked by the level of premeditation in the murder.

He said: "The thing that struck me the most about this crime is the callous manner in which a plan that had been devised was followed to the letter - it's chilling."

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