Scunthorpe killer sentenced to nine years for manslaughter
The violent killer who brutally stabbed and strangled a man before burying his body in deep woodland near Humberside Airport at Kirmington has been jailed for nine years.
The killing was branded by a judge as “cowardly and callous” – and police believe that nobody else was responsible for the death, despite the attacker’s efforts to blame another man for it.
Lithuanian man Aleksandras Aleksiunas, 26, of Burke Street, Scunthorpe, denied murdering chicken factory worker Arvydas Skrinkas at Cottager’s Dale Wood, near Great Limber, between December 24 and January 10.
He was cleared of murder but was convicted by a jury of manslaughter on a 10 to two majority verdict after nearly 11 hours of deliberations spanning three days.
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He and Lithuanian co-defendant Arundas Gervelis, 25, of Dale Street, Scunthorpe, denied falsely imprisoning Mr Skrinkas and his girlfriend, Agne Jozenaite, on December 24 and falsely imprisoning Miss Jozenaite on December 25.
Aleksiunas, a bacon factory worker, was convicted of the first offence but the jury at Hull Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict on the second matter.
That charge will lie on file.
Gervelis was cleared by the jury of both charges.
The prosecution claimed Aleksiunas stabbed Mr Skrinkas, causing a 12cm-deep shoulder wound and other wounds, and strangled him with a cord after driving him to the remote wooded area.
He hid his own blood-splattered jacket, a door key to his mother’s home and the victim’s sandals, also under piles of leaves.
The body was found deep in a copse of woodland near the back road that runs off the A18 main road and alongside Humberside Airport, heading towards Caistor. A track leading to where the body was found runs for at least a mile off to the left near the roadside sign for Lincolnshire, in the direction of Caistor.
Aleksiunas was said to have been furious that a satellite navigation system had gone missing from a car and blamed Lithuanian Mr Skrinkas, 25, of Sheffield Street, Scunthorpe, and his girlfriend, Miss Jozenaite, 23, for the theft.
The conviction for manslaughter came as a total surprise to those involved in the case as it had not even been suggested as a possible verdict by either the prosecution or the defence or even raised as an option with the judge.
A source closely involved in the case branded the jury’s decision “perverse”.
The judge, Sir Geoffrey Grigson, a retired High Court judge, told Aleksiunas: “Mr Skrinkas was taken from his home to Cottager’s Dale Wood. He was stabbed and then he was strangled from behind with a cord.
“His murder was deliberate, cowardly and callous. His body was concealed in woods.”
Nicholas Lumley QC, mitigating, claimed that the jury’s manslaughter verdict indicated that it accepted the “greater part” of the defence case, including claims by Aleksiunas that he did not stab the victim or use a ligature to strangle him.
Aleksiunas “bitterly regretted” his actions immediately afterwards and their “unintended consequences”. His remorse was obvious when he gave evidence, claimed Mr Lumley.
Aleksiunas, in custody for 269 days, had already been told by the Home Office that he could be deported after his release from prison, said Mr Lumley.
The judge commended the police team, including Detective Chief Inspector Steve Hibbitt, for its “skill” in investigating a seemingly “impenetrable” situation when faced with the disappearance of Mr Skrinkas and dealing with the Lithuanian community, as well as searching a very wide area of woodland.