Thursday 22 March 2018

Trial hears killer’s partner and children sought refuge in neighbour’s house

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Natasha Reid

The trial of a man charged with impeding a homicide investigation has heard that the killer’s partner and children sought refuge in a neighbour’s house shortly before the killing as they were in fear of the killer.

The 54-year-old man on trial for impeding claims he was under duress when he helped move the body and clean up the scene. The killer is not currently on trial.

The Central Criminal Court has heard that 44-year-old Audrius Butkus was ‘battered to death’ in a house in Louth before his body was dumped at a nearby beach.

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 Mr Butkus.

The particulars include moving the body from a house 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.

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. His barrister has indicated that the issue for the jury to decide would be whether there had been duress.

Carmen Canales testified today that she lived across the road from Marius Gaizutis at the time. She said that his partner knocked on her door on the evening of September 9th.

“She said: Please open the door because my husband is going to bet me up and I’m with my children,” she said, explaining that she had met the woman had previously confided in her that her partner had been aggressive.

Ms Canales opened the door and said that the woman and her five children were crying and shaking.

She let them in and they spent the night in her living room. They left at 5am and Ms Canales asked the woman to avoid being seen leaving her house so that she too would not become a victim of Mr Gaizutis.

Under cross examination by Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending, she agreed that the woman had said: “Open the door please. My husband’s killing me,” and that she had made a throat-cutting gesture.

The trial continues this afternoon before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart.

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