Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Teen cut off dead woman's head and dumped body

A young man admitted murdering a Lithuanian migrant worker, cutting off her head and hands and dumping them into the sea off the Scottish coast.

Aleksandras Skirda, 19, also from Lithuania, tortured and killed Jolanta Bledaite, 35, at her flat in Brechin, Angus, in March last year, before throwing her severed body parts into Arbroath harbour. He returned to the spot the next day to dispose of a suitcase containing the rest of Ms Bledaite's remains. Skirda, who is likely to be jailed for life, was remanded in custody after he admitted the crimes at the High Court in Edinburgh.



A second man, Vitas Plytnykas, 41, pleaded not guilty to murder and theft. He is due to stand trial in Edinburgh in February, with Skirda expected to be a key witness. Police launched an investigation in April following the discovery of Ms Bledaite's head, which was dumped in a plastic bag on a beach in Arbroath. The grim find was made by two sisters, aged eight and 11.



Police found the victim's hands nearby and recovered the rest of her body parts after an appeal for information led to hundreds of calls from the public. The men were arrested days later.



Yesterday, Skirda admitted murdering Ms Bledaite in her flat on 29 March last year. He bound her legs, hands and arms and put tape over her nose, hit her repeatedly with a knife and demanded that she give him the PIN numbers for her bank cards. He also admitted holding her down and suffocating her with a pillow. After the killing, Skirda stole £1,400 from his victim, using her bank cards to withdraw the money from cash machines.



He sat impassively in court, listening to an interpreter as his many admissions were read out. Judge Lord Uist warned him that he faced life behind bars. "As you have pleaded guilty to the crime of murder, you must in due course by law be sentenced to detention, or as it will be by the time that you are sentenced, imprisonment, for life," he said. "Before you are sentenced, a social inquiry report must be obtained about your background and the circumstances, so the judge sentencing you can fix the punishment period, which is the minimum period you will spend in custody."



Lord Uist added that Skirda would not be sentenced until the trial of the other man, Vitas Plytnykas, reaches its conclusion in February. During the 30-minute hearing, Mr Plytnykas claimed that Skirda was wholly responsible for the crimes. Mr Plytnykas also denied helping Skirda conceal the murder, by clearing Ms Bledaite's possessions from her bedroom, setting fire to her papers and personal belongings and throwing knives into a river in Brechin. Witnesses speaking Lithuanian and Polish are expected to be called when the trial begins.



Ms Bledaite, from Alytus in Lithuania, had been living in Brechin for 18 months. Her father, who has cancer, said she had dreamed of a better life that she wanted to buy him a house.



Following the news of her murder, local people and businesses contributed to a fund to support her family and repatriate her remains.

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