A man charged with disposing of a body following a homicide has told his trial that he did so under the orders of the killer, who he thought would not mind whether it was ‘one dead body or two’.
The 54-year-old was giving evidence in his defence today on the fifth day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court. He said his basement was red with blood when the killer brought him down to help him move the corpse.
Aivars Sondors is charged with three counts of assisting an offender on September 9th or 10th 2013 by impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Marius Gaizutis, knowing or believing him to have unlawfully killed 44-year-old Lithuanian Audrius Butkus.
The particulars include moving the body from the house he shared with Gaizutis on Marsh Road in Drogheda and placing it in the sea at Mornington Beach; cleaning up the scene at Marsh Road; and disposing of carpet, clothing, a nail brush, bin bag, bottles and tins from the scene at the Burke House, Mathew’s Lane, Drogheda.
Gaizutis has already been convicted of the killing.
Mr Sondors of Sycamore Close, Termon Abbey in Drogheda has admitted the three allegations against him, but has pleaded not guilty to all three counts. He claims he was under duress.
He entered the witness box yesterday afternoon and described a drunk Gaizutis waking him in the middle of the night and demanding his car keys.
“He kind of made the movement he was going to punch me,” he testified. “I didn’t want to be beaten up by him.”
He said that Gaizutis, who he had known for 40 years, soon came back and asked him to come downstairs.
“I was under the impression that if I woudn’t go, he would drag me,” he explained.
He said he had ‘not the slightest idea’ what he was going to find in the basement and agreed it looked like a slaughter house.
“There was a tiled floor. It was all coloured red,” he recalled, adding that there was a body at the bottom of the stairs.
“I could see he was trying to push it up the stairs, but he couldn’t,” he said.
He told the court that Gaizutis told him he had to help him carry the body out of the house and that he did so. He said he brought to body to Mornington Beach because the killer ordered him to do so.
“I presumed I could expect anything from him,” he said.
“I think, for him, one dead body, two dead bodies, or a third dead body wouldn’t make much difference,” he continued. “I was under the impression that if I made one single, wrong move, he would kill me too.”
He said that he later spent an hour helping his housemate to clean up the scene.
“Everything was red: the floor, the ceiling the walls,” he recalled.
The trial earlier heard that he admitted the offence after learning that his fingerprint had been found in blood at the scene.
Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, has now begun cross examining the accused and will continue his cross examination this morning before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart.
Earlier today, Detective Sergeant Liam Archbold testified that Mr Sondors told gardai he arrived home on the night of September 9th, heard Gaizutis singing loudly in the basement and went to bed.
He said that Gaizutis later woke him and asked for his car keys. He didn’t want to hand them over but said Gaizutis demanded them and he gave them to him.
He said Gaizutis returned to his room again and asked him to come with him.
“I went down (to the basement) and saw the man, who was lying,” he recalled. “He said: ‘This man needs to be removed from here and I’m not capable.”
“He had a green plastic bag wrapped around his head,” he continued. “We carried him upstairs.”
He said that they both put the body in the boot of his car and that he was instructed to dump the body near the seaside. He said he did this at the nearest beach.