Man from Scunthorpe denies murder - trial opens at Hull Crown Court
The body of a man who had been brutally stabbed and strangled was found hidden under piles of leaves in a dense and remote area of woodland near Humberside Airport, a court heard.
The victim had allegedly been killed for stealing a satellite navigation system and his corpse lay undiscovered for many days before finally being found, the court was told.
Lithuanian man Aleksandras Aleksiunas, 26, of Burke Street, Scunthorpe, denies murdering Arvydas Skrinkas at Cottager’s Dale Woods, Limber, near Kirmington, between December 24 and January 10.
He and Lithuanian co-defendant Arundas Gervelis, 24, of Dale Street, Scunthorpe, deny falsely imprisoning Mr Skrinkas and his girlfriend, Agne Jozenaite, on December 24 and falsely imprisoning Miss Jozenaite on December 25.
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Timothy Roberts QC, prosecuting, told Hull Crown Court that Aleksiunas suspected Mr Skrinkas, 25, of Sheffield Street, Scunthorpe, and Miss Jozenaite, 23, of stealing a satellite navigation system belonging to Gervelis from a car while they were being given a lift to Gainsborough.
“That’s what this case is all about – a missing satellite navigation device that caused a disproportionate amount of trouble,” said Mr Roberts.
Aleksiunas was a “domineering” character and he set out to “identify the thieves”.
About 10 days later, the couple, also both Lithuanian, were confronted by Aleksiunas and Gervelis outside their home and accused of the theft.
On Christmas Eve, the defendants and another man again went to the couple’s home. They got in the back of a car driven by Gervelis, with Aleksiunas as the passenger.
Aleksiunas accused Miss Jozenaite of stealing the sat nav and Mr Skrinkas of hiding it. In a “sinister way”, Aleksiunas asked them if they had brought a shovel or spade with them, claimed Mr Roberts.
Aleksiunas went to his mother’s home, picked up a big shovel and put it in the boot. He showed the couple a large knife he had taken from his mother’s home and put it in the waistband of his jeans. He put the knife in the front footwell, near his feet.
Miss Jozenaite was allowed to get out of the car and it sped off.
“That was the last time she saw her boyfriend alive, being taken off in this Audi car,” said Mr Roberts.
“She was concerned for her boyfriend’s safety and repeatedly tried to phone him but without success.”
Aleksiunas later allegedly went to her home and told her: “I have dug him in to the ground.”
On Christmas Day, Aleksiunas and three other men asked her to get in the car if she wanted to see her boyfriend alive again. He was, in reality, already dead.
They said they would take her to Leeds to see him. Aleksiunas claimed he had stabbed Mr Skrinkas and left him near a Leeds hospital. They actually drove towards Nottingham and Aleksiunas allegedly intimidated and threatened her with violence so she did not go to the police.
The car returned to Scunthorpe, where Gervelis got in it, and the other men later tried to talk Aleksiunas out of hurting Miss Jozenaite.
Aleksiunas allegedly threatened to “put her in the ground next to her boyfriend” and told her “he was not coming back”, claimed Mr Roberts.
The “terrified” Miss Jozenaite was taken back to Scunthorpe and was allegedly told to thank the men for sparing her life.
“The whole trip was designed to encourage her to keep her mouth shut,” claimed Mr Roberts.
Miss Jozenaite later managed to escape from the car and hide. The car was attacked by other Lithuanians and was abandoned in the early hours of Boxing Day. The car was set on fire, destroying scientific evidence.
Aleksiunas was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and taken towards a wooded area near Humberside Airport, where mobile phone records showed he had been. He became “extremely distressed and began crying hysterically” near where the body was found.
He denied killing Mr Skrinkas but the dead man’s body was found in dense and remote woodland on January 10 after an intensive search.
Other evidence found hidden near the body, also under leaves, included a coat previously worn by Aleksiunas. Inside the jacket was a front door key to the home of his mother. Also found was a fob belonging to him from an address in Scunthorpe and a pair of sandals, a belt and a money bag belonging to the victim.
Blood from Mr Skrinkas was found on the jacket of Aleksiunas.
It was believed that Mr Skrinkas had first been stabbed with a knife, leaving a 12cm-deep wound in the back of his shoulder and other wounds, but that the cause of death was strangulation by a ligature.
The knife had never been found.
The trial, listed for up to three weeks, is being heard before retired High Court judge Sir Geoffrey Grigson and a jury of seven men and five women.
Aleksiunas appeared in court wearing a blue T-shirt with the prominent slogan “I was amazing last night!” in white letters.
The case continues.