Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Jolanta death was 'perfect crime'

Vitas Plytnykas
Vitas Plytnykas denies murdering Jolanta Bledaite

Jolanta Bledaite's killers planned what they thought was the perfect murder and carried it out with military precision, a court has heard.

Ms Bledaite's head was found on the beach at Arbroath on 1 April last year.

Vitas Plytnykas, 41, from Lithuania denies any involvement in her death. Lithuanian Aleksandras Skirda, 20, has already admitted her murder.

During the prosecution's closing speech, the jury was told the killing was premeditated and cold-blooded.

Mr Plytnykas claims Skirda alone was to blame for Ms Bledaite's death.

He claims he has an alibi for the morning of 29 March last year when Ms Bledaite, who was also from Lithuania, died in the Brechin flat she shared with Skirda.

'Acting together'

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told jurors at the High Court in Edinburgh that both men were guilty.

He told the jury that Ms Bledaite appeared to have been an "honest, industrious and hard worker" who kept herself to herself and saved her money.

"Two men decided they would take that money. Not for them the honest toil," he said.

He reminded the jury they had heard - from Skirda - how the two men had gone into Ms Bledaite's room and bound her ankles and wrists and gagged her with gaffer tape while they demanded her bank card's Pin number.

She initially gave them the wrong number.

Jolanta Bledaite
Jolanta Bledaite's head was found by two sisters on Arbroath beach

"Then, thinking she might just survive this she gave them the correct number and money was taken from her bank accounts. She was then murdered," he said.

Mr Prentice continued: "She died. She was then carried to the bathroom where her head was severed.

"Her hands were cut off and her body and body parts in a very undignified way thrown into the sea in trash bags in the hope - of these two men - that she would not be found and their crime would not be detected."

He said that the last few moments of her life must have been terrifying.

Mr Prentice said: "From the Crown's point of view it doesn't matter who cut the head off. The Crown case is that the two were acting together."

Fingerprints on bags containing Ms Bledaite's belongings and CCTV footage of Mr Plytnykas on a bus with Skirda carrying the head and hands in a Lidl bag were "compelling evidence," said the advocate depute.

"This was all conducted with almost military precision."

Mr Prentice continued: "They planned what they thought would be a pretty complete and almost perfect crime."

However, in his closing speech, Paul McBride QC, defending, described main witness Skirda as a brutal thug and blatant liar.

"In this particular case the murderer was an 18-year-old boy with blue eyes, blond hair and an innocent face, a person you would pass in the street thinking he was a youngster with butter not melting in his mouth," he said.

Aleksandras Skirda at a previous court hearing
Aleksandras Skirda was accused of lying to get a lighter sentence

"But the fact is, the person before you in the witness box in this case is the face of evil.

"That is the person who watched the person who trusted him most - Jolanta - tied up, gagged, left on the floor, suffocated, butchered, decapitated and dumped like a piece of meat."

Mr McBride told the jury: "You have seen the movie Hannibal Lecter - this is for real."

He reminded them that Skirda lied for hours during police interviews before breaking down, telling police his story and implicating Mr Plytnykas.

He told the court that Skirda had been lying in the hope he would get a lighter sentence.

Mr McBride pointed out that no bloodstains or DNA linked Mr Plytnykas to the murder, but there was a link with Skirda.

He showed the trial a photo of the bathroom where Ms Bledaite was butchered.

"Look at that small area. Someone is having their head cut off. Someone is having their hands cut off and according to Skirda - if you can believe a word he says - there was a lot of blood about."

Pointing to Mr Plytnykas in the dock, the lawyer continued: "Nothing on him at all. Nothing either on her (Ms Bledaite) to link him to her at all."

Mr McBride urged the jury: "Look at the evidence and get it right."

He told them: "This was a disgusting and distasteful and brutal and horrific crime, there is no question about that.

"But you must put out of your minds the nature of the crime when deciding the guilt or innocence of the man who currently sits in court."

The prosecution had got Ms Bledaite's murderer, said Mr McBride - but Mr Plytnykas was not part of it.

The jury will be asked to consider their verdicts on Friday.

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