Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Accused's DNA not at murder scene

Jolanta Bledaite
Two young sisters found Ms Bledaite's head on the beach

No trace of DNA from the Lithuanian man accused of killing a woman and cutting off her head was found at the murder scene in Angus, a court has heard.

But fingerprints matching the accused's were found on bin bags containing Jolanta Bledaite's belongings.

Vitas Plytnykas, 41, denies any involvement in Ms Bledaite's death.

Two young sisters playing on the beach at Arbroath found Ms Bledaite's head in a plastic bag on 1 April last year. Police then discovered her hands.

The High Court in Edinburgh has been hearing details of the major police investigation sparked by the discoveries.

A suitcase containing her mutilated body was later hauled from the sea.

Clothing was found in a storage cellar at the flat in Southesk Street, Brechin, where Lithuanian migrant worker Ms Bledaite, 35, lived and died.

Clothes were also found in a wheelie bin in Arbroath.

There is no sign of DNA from him
Alastair Burt
Forensic Scientist
Police divers searching the River South Esk found three knives.

Aleksandras Skirda, 20, who shared a flat with Ms Bledaite, was arrested and has admitted murder.

Forensic scientist Alastair Burt, 48, told the court about tests carried out on a pair of tracksuit bottoms, believed to belong to Ms Bledaite.

Bloodstains showed a match with samples taken from Skirda, the court heard.

Mixtures of DNA which could result from Ms Bledaite and Skirda had been found.

"But not the other accused," he told defence QC Paul McBride. "There is no sign of DNA from him."

Vitas Plytnykas
Vitas Plytnykas denies any involvement in Ms Bledaite's death
The trial heard that carpet from the bathroom, where Ms Bledaite's head and hands were cut off, had revealed only traces of Skirda.

"Again we can exclude the other accused in this case, is that right?" asked Mr McBride.

"It is correct, yes," Mr Burt told him.

Mr McBride agreed there might be other explanations, but suggested one explanation was that Mr Plytnykas was not there at all.

"If you are not one of the perpetrators you would get no blood on you at all," agreed Mr Burt.

The court also heard that tiny traces of DNA found on one of the knives pulled from the river meant Skirda "could not be excluded".

Fingerprint expert Claire Forgan, 28, told how she was asked to compare fingerprints found on bin bags with samples taken from Mr Plytnykas.

She said she had found a total of 15 matches.

'Bound and gagged'

The court also heard from pathologist Dr David Sadler, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Ms Bledaite's body.

He said the medical signs were consistent with a pillow being held over her nose when her mouth was gagged with gaffer tape.

Asked how long this would take, Dr Sadler said it could be a few seconds or it could be a minute or more, depending on an individual's ability to struggle.

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked: "Would distress play a part?"

Dr Sadler replied: "Yes, particularly being bound and gagged."

He explained that the stress could send levels of adrenaline and other hormones in the body shooting up which would be harmful to the heart.

Marks on Ms Blediate's chin and shoulder suggested a knife with a coarsely serrated blade had been used to cut off the head, said Dr Sadler.

The injuries were consistent with the use of a kitchen knife with a five inch blade found in the River South Esk, the court was told

The trial continues.


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