Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Life for head-on-beach murderers

Aleksandras Skirda and Vitas Plytnykas
Aleksandras Skirda (left) and Vitas Plytnykas were jailed for life

Two men who murdered a Lithuanian woman before cutting off her head and hands have been jailed for life.

Vitas Plytnykas, 41, and Aleksandras Skirda, 20, must serve a minimum of 28 and 20 years respectively.

The pair tortured and killed Jolanta Bledaite, 35, then cut up her body and threw it in the sea. Her head was found on a beach at Arbroath in Angus.

Judge Lord Pentland said they executed the "wicked scheme" with ruthlessness and a "chilling" lack of pity.

Skirda had earlier admitted murder and gave evidence against Plytnykas, who was convicted after a trial last month.

The two Lithuanian men will be deported at the end of their sentences.

You executed this wicked scheme with determined ruthlessness and a chilling lack of pity
Judge Lord Pentland

The trial had heard that they thought Jolanta had up to 10,000 in a bank account and believed that no-one would know she was missing.

The pair bound and gagged the migrant worker at the flat she shared with Skirda in Brechin, Angus, on 29 March last year.

They forced her to give them the Pin number for her bank card, then smothered her with a pillow.

They then chopped up her body and dumped the severed remains into the sea.

Her head was found in a plastic bag washed up on Arbroath beach by two young sisters.

Her hands, also wrapped in carrier bags, were discovered by police on the same stretch of beach.

The gruesome discovery sparked a major police inquiry and a suitcase containing Ms Bledaite's body was later recovered from the sea at Arbroath.

Jurors in the case were shown CCTV footage of Plytnykas and Skirda on a bus to Arbroath, carrying a plastic supermarket bag which contained their victim's head and hands.

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Jolanta's head was found on a beach by two young sisters

During court proceedings at the High Court in Edinburgh, defence counsel Paul McBride said Plytnykas was on hunger strike.

He said the Lithuanian had not accepted responsibility for the murder.

But he added: "It does appear that they both acted together."

As he delivered the life sentences, Judge Lord Pentland told the men: "The evidence clearly showed that the two of you planned and plotted these crimes with cold-blooded deliberation over a period of some months.

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"Your victim was to be a young and defenceless woman, one of your fellow Lithuanian citizens, whom you understood to have saved her hard-earned wages from farm work."

Lord Pentland said the men had intended all along to murder Jolanta and desecrate her body.

He added: "You executed this wicked scheme with determined ruthlessness and a chilling lack of pity.

"Despite what has been said in mitigation, I am not at all persuaded that either of you has shown any genuine sign of remorse at any stage."

Outside the court, Sue Smith, a friend speaking on behalf of Miss Bledaite's family, said: "Nothing is going to bring back Jolanta.

"I don't think in murder there is any closure.

"Vitas Plytnykas also had a child who will grow up without a father. There are a lot of families affected by this."

She said the victim's family could not come to terms with the relatively comfortable conditions the two killers would experience in jail.

She added: "They can't understand how they have TV in prison. The family don't even have electricity."

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