A 29-YEAR-OLD who shot dead a man in Northern Ireland while he was on the run from a Co Cavan prison has been jailed for seven years.
Deividas Paliutis, of no fixed abode but originally from Lithuania, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin to the manslaughter of Ukrainian Dymtro Grytsunov, (30), on April 23, 2011 at Rooney Park in Kilkeel, Co Down.
He fired the gun into a group of men who he was in a dispute with and fatally injured Mr Grytsunov in the chest.
He was originally charged with murder but last November he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The prosecution on that date accepted the plea.
Last week he also pleaded guilty to possession of a sawn-off Bettinsoli shotgun and four 12-bore shotgun cartridges on the same date.
Today Mr Bernard Condon SC prosecuting told the court that at the time of the offence Paliutis had been unlawfully at large from Loughan House – an open prison in Co. Cavan.
He said he had not been in custody solely for this offence as the court previously heard he was sentenced to one year in prison for an assault causing harm conviction from Monaghan Circuit Court.
He was transferred to Loughan House in January 2009 for that offence but walked out the next day.
Paliutis was also freed in error from Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland where he was being held on other charges in autumn 2010.
He was unlawfully at large until he was arrested for this offence in Swords, Co Dublin on April 29, 2011 and had been in custody since.
Although the killing took place in Northern Ireland he opted to be tried in the Republic under the Criminal Law Justice Jurisdiction Act 1976.
Today Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to seven years for the manslaughter and five years on each of the other counts to run concurrently.
The judge backdated the sentence to November 11, 2011 for time spent in custody.
He also directed 18 months post-release supervision if he does not return to Lithuania.
The judge said he was taking into account that there was no gangland dimension to the incident, Paliutis’s early plea and his substantial history of employment.
He said he also had to take into account the affect on the deceased’s mother who was in ill-health.
Detective Sergeant Mark Kavanagh told Mr Bernard Condon SC prosecuting that a dispute arose between two groups of men in the time running up to the incident.
He said a friend of Paliutis was in a physical altercation at Paliutis’s partner’s house after his own home, which was empty at the time, was smoke-bombed.
The group of men went to Paliutis’s partner’s house in Rooney Park and Paliutis, who had gone to the shop to buy beer, returned to see a very large group of men there.
The court heard Paliutis’s friend was dragged from the house, set upon and received a severe beating on the street.
Paliutis fired the shotgun into the group of men and hit Mr Grytsunov in the chest fatally injuring him.
A resident of Rooney Park contacted police after hearing a loud hollow bang and then went to the assistance of a man lying facedown on the ground.
Paliutis’s friend’s wife said her husband had been receiving calls of a threatening nature demanding money from a man and his associates.
She said 10 to 15 men were at the door and her husband was attacked and he received blows.
Det Sgt Kavangh told the court the accused was arrested and interviewed 14 times.
Paliutis said that in the sixth interview he said he sawed off the barrel of the shotgun he had hidden in an artificial Christmas tree box, and that he fired it.
He said he had bought the gun from members of the travelling community along with four cartridges as he was in fear for his safety because of charges pending against him but said he had never fired a shotgun before.
Deputy State Pathologist in Northern Ireland, Dr Alistair Bentley, said the cause of death was a shotgun wound to the chest and that the person who shot him was standing two metres away.
The court heard the deceased, who had no children, trained as a teacher but could not find employment in the field so became a butcher and later a fisherman.
It also heard the deceased’s mother could not be in court because her health had deteriorated.
In a victim impact statement read to the court she said her late husband drowned three years ago while fishing and she suffered panic attacks and was taking sedatives.
Mr Patrick Marinan told the court in mitigation that this was not somebody who was involved in gangs and had never invited the men to come to his house where his partner and her two children were.
He said his client found a riot outside his house where his partner and his two children were and got a firearm.
He said his client was from a decent background and took up employment in Co. Monaghan as a mechanic.
Mr Marinan said he has been in custody since his arrest and that he was told his client is a model prisoner who has expressed considerable remorse.
The court heard the accused has three previous convictions including assault causing harm and threatening and abusive behaviour.