Cambridgeshire: Minimum of 20 years for man who killed ex-wife

13/11/2012

A man who killed his ex-wife has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years.

Vitalija Baliutaviciene, 29, was last seen in Peterborough. Her body was later found in a shallow grave in Poland.

Lithuanian Rimas Venclovas, 47, was found guilty of kidnap and murder at the Old Bailey yesterday.

Paul Scothern, Crown Advocate in the CPS East of England Complex Casework Unit, described the case against Rimas Venclovas as one of the most unusual he had dealt with because of the issue of whether it should be tried in this country.

He said:  "The defence raised the issue of jurisdiction and whether it was right for the trial to go ahead in this country, given that both defendant and victim were Lithuanian nationals and the body of the victim had been found in Poland. This was a serious matter for the prosecution to deal with." 

Rimas Venclovas was due to stand trial in March 2012 for the murder of Vitalija Baliutaviciene. Mr Scothern said: "At that stage the trial was going ahead on the basis that the body of the victim had not been found. Despite that, we were satisfied we had enough evidence to prove Venclovas had killed his ex-wife.

"Three weeks before the trial in March, thanks to police continuing with their inquiries, a body which had been found in Poland in October 2011 was identified as possibly being that of Miss Baliutaviciene. DNA tests confirmed it was her.

"A new trial was fixed and it was at this stage that the defence raised jurisdiction as an issue.

"As the reviewing lawyer I looked into the issues raised and obtained the consent of the Attorney General that the prosecution should be conducted under the powers in the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978 which gives jurisdiction for certain offences carried out abroad to be tried here." 

Following legal argument between prosecution and defence in front of the trial judge, the judge agreed that the trial should go ahead and Venclovas has now been convicted of murder.

Mr Scothern said: "I have never dealt with a case where the issue of jurisdiction has been settled in this way or the Attorney Generals consent obtained in these circumstances.

"Venclovas believed that without a body the prosecution would not be able to prove he murdered his ex-wife. When that was no longer the case, he tried to argue the trial should not be held here. He was wrong on both counts and today justice has been done."