Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Monday, 9 February 2009

Men 'talked of cutting up woman'

Jolanta Bledaite
Jolanta Bledaite was killed in Brechin in March last year

A man accused of killing a Lithuanian woman discussed robbing her and cutting up her body, a court has heard.

Rimantas Sulcas, a friend of accused Vitas Plytnykas, said he heard him discussing the issue with Aleksandras Skirda who has already admitted murder.

Lithuanian Mr Plytnykas, 41, denies murdering Jolanta Bledaite, whose severed remains were found in Arbroath.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Mr Sulcas say he thought the men's talk about robbing Ms Bledaite was a joke.

I thought it was a joke
Rimantas Sulcas
Farm worker
Through an interpreter, Mr Sulcas, a farm worker, told the court about car trips during which, he claimed, Mr Plytnykas and Skirda said they were looking for somewhere to hide a body.

Mr Sulcas said there had been a plan to steal Ms Bledaite's bank cards then "to keep her tied in the flat for a while, find the PIN code then take the money".

He continued: "The suggestion was to do it together. With me."

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked him: "Did you want to have anything to do with it?"

Mr Sulcas said: "No I thought it was a joke."

Somewhere was needed to hide the body "in case of death", Mr Sulcas told the court.

He said he thought it was all a joke but added: "It became real later."

Mr Sulcas also claimed Mr Plytnykas kept telling him that if anything went wrong he would cut Ms Bledaite's head off.

Earlier, Skirda, who has admitted killing Ms Bledaite and throwing her chopped-up body into the sea last April, was accused of lying in a bid to get a lighter sentence.

Skirda previously told the court that Mr Plytnykas had smothered Ms Bledaite with a pillow then cut off her head.

But Mr Plytnykas' QC said his client's DNA was not on knives found by police.

Skirda was spending a second day in the witness box at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He said Mr Plytnykas came up with the idea for the murder and had come to the flat in Southesk Street, Brechin, on 29 March last year, bringing plastic gloves to use in the killing.

Police questions

Ms Bledaite's head was found on 1 April by two young sisters playing on the beach at Arbroath.

Paul McBride QC accused Skirda of showing no emotion as his flatmate was butchered for her savings.

"You did act as coolly as you please, didn't you? You didn't panic. You weren't frightened. You were as cool as a cucumber," he said.

Skirda told the lawyer: "No"

He added, with the help of an interpreter: "I tried to hold back my panic and not show it."

The trial also saw on video the moment when Skirda finally buckled under police questions and told them about Ms Bledaite's death.

Aleksandras Skirda at a previous court hearing
Aleksandras Skirda has already admitted murdering Ms Bledaite

Detectives told Skirda that a forensic team searching the flat in Southesk Street had found blood on a door-frame, a bath panel and soaking through the carpet.

"This is going to be difficult. Can I get a fag before all that," said Skirda.

He went on to describe what he claims Mr Plytnykas did and told the detectives: "I just watched."

Mr McBride challenged: "That was a blatant lie, wasn't it?" Skirda insisted: "No".

Confronted with another statement in which he told a different story, he said: "What I said in court on Friday was a true version."

Mr McBride continued: "There is no DNA evidence at all that links Vitas to this murder. Is that just bad luck or what?"

"I don't know," said Skirda.

"You do know because it was you and you alone that carried out the murder," said Mr McBride.

"The reason why there is no DNA link to that man sitting on trial at the High Court (Mr Plytnykas) is because he was not there."

"No," repeated Skirda.

He also denied trying to seek a lower sentence by shifting the blame onto someone else.

The trial continues.

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