Monday 27 January 2020

Partner and children spent night in neighbour’s house as they were in fear of killer

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

Alison O'Riordan

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

The Central Criminal Court has previously heard that 44-year-old Audrius Butkus died from “a violent and bloody assault” in a house in Louth before his body was dumped at a nearby beach.

Aivars Sondors (55) is charged with three counts of assisting an offender on September 9 or 10 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 nailbrush, bin bag, bottles and tins from the scene at Burke House, Mathew’s Lane, Drogheda.

Mr Sondors of Sycamore Close, Termon Abbey in Drogheda, but originally from Latvia, 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 of eight men and four women to decide would be whether there had been duress.

The jury has previously heard that Mr Gaizutis was convicted of the murder of Mr Butkus on May 1, 2015.

Carmen Canales testified today that she lived across the road from Mr Gaizutis and his family in 2013. She said that his partner banged on her door, asking her for help, on the evening of September 9. She had her five children with her and they were all crying.

Ms Canales said the woman pleaded with her to open the door because Mr Gaizutis had threatened to kill her. The witness said the woman then made a throat-cutting gesture by drawing her thumb across her throat.

The court heard that the woman had previously told her that her partner was aggressive and always drunk.

“I opened the door and asked her in for coffee and told her to calm down. They all slept in my house that night and left the next morning at 7am," said Ms Canales.

Under cross examination by Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending, Ms Canales agreed with counsel that this woman was frightened of Mr Gaizutis and they were all “shaking a lot” so she felt obliged to help them.

Ms Canales said she was afraid Mr Gaizutis would come to her house so she asked the woman not to mention her to him.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

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