Verdict in Wisbech murder trial as court hears how covert recordings helped trap guilty flat mate

A JURY has found a man guilty of murdering his housemate in Wisbech.

A LITHUANIAN, who strangled and beat up his room-mate in a freezing Wisbech park in a row over money, has been convicted of murder.

A friend - who later confessed to police what had happened - watched an enraged Tomas Krasnovas jump on Erikas Ulinksas’s head in Holmes Park on Saturday November 27.

The jury heard that at the time he had thought it was a play fight and not deadly serious.

Krasnovas and his friend left 36-year-old Erikas lying on the snow covered football field and went to the 5 Star Premier shop in Norwich Road to buy more alcohol. The three of them had been drinking vodka and beer since the day before.

The court heard that Erikas, who died from blunt force trauma, could have survived if he had received medical treatment sooner.

He had fractured ribs and larynx, which made breathing difficult, and a brain injury.

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A JURY found Tomas Krasnovas, 22, guilty of murdering his housemate in Wisbech.

Krasnovas, 22, attacked Erikas Ulinskas, 36, as they walked Holmes Park.

Krasnovas, 23, a carpenter/ builder, who pleaded not guilty at Cambridge Crown Court to murder, had been sharing a room at 14 Cocketts Drive, Wisbech, with fellow Lithuanian builder Erikas Ulinsksas.

The defendant claimed that Erikas had separated from him and Romualdas Celiesius at 9 pm at the shop and he had not seen him since. He denied he attacked his room-mate and claimed that Romualdas had made up what he said he had witnessed.

But after a three-week trial the jury found Krasnovas guilty of murder. Judge Anthony Bate said Krasnovas would be imprisoned for life but adjourned sentence until today (Friday) to consider the minimum period he would have to serve before he could be released on parole.

Krasnovas looked shocked as the jury returned its unanimous verdict after five and a half hours deliberations and held his head in his hands as if in disbelief.

During the trial the court heard that the body of Erikas, lying on his back with his eyes open, was found by two local men, Luke Leet and Michael Bailey shortly after 9 pm.

The men noticed a dark patch in the snow covered field, said prosecutor Angela Rafferty. She said they investigated and discovered the body.

The prosecution claimed that an argument had rumbled on all weekend about Erikas spending his wages on alcohol instead of food to share with Krasnovas, who wasn’t working.

The three men left their house about 9.00pm on Saturday 27 November to get more drink.

The jury was told that Mr Celiesius heard Krasnovas tell Erikas : “We are going to the park and I will kill you.” He and Erikas both thought was a joke.

Mr Celiesius also remembered Krasnovas saying, “I have said it, I will do it and so I will.”

In the park an uncontrollably angry Krasnovas started to strangle a very drunk Erikas and shake him. The jury heard that at first Mr Celiesius thought it was a play fight.

Krasnovas then threw his room-mate down and kicked him in the face and head a number of times and jumped on his head.

After the assault ended the two men went off to the 5 Star Premier shop to buy more alcohol.

“Erikas died there in the snow,” said the prosecutor.

COVERT recordings helped to convict Tomas Krasnovas after both he and a friend had agreed a story that would have left them in the clear.

Krasnovas and his friend had agreed to tell police that the murdered man, Erikas Ulinskas, had left them at a shop and they didn’t know what happened to him later.

But the jury was told that secret recordings were made of Krasnovas and his friend Romualdas Celiesius after both had been held for questioning following the discovery of the body.

Both men were arrested on December 3 and held in cells opposite each other.

The men stuck to the pre-planned story, claimed the prosecution, but two days later Mr Celiesius told police the truth. He said he was scared of Krasnovas.

The secretly recorded conversations, from a device in the cell corridor, picked up Krasnovas’s reaction when his friend revealed what he had said. Krasnovas said : “Why the f... did you give it away?

“They heard nothing, nothing, not a thing you idiot. You are coming together with me, you moron. For me it’s prison for life.”

The court heard that Erikas could have survived the mild to moderate brain injury if he had received medical help sooner.

TOMAS Krasnovas told the court he came to the UK in 2008 and then again in February 2009.

He had worked washing pumpkins, picking daffodils and in a potato sorting factory, and lived initially in St Austell and Cardiff before moving to Wisbech that April.

He moved into 14 Cocketts Drive in November 2009 where other Lithuanians lived, including his brother.

He shared a room with Erikas Ulinskas from about three weeks before his death and they took it in turns to buy food for the week. Erikas would just spend money on alcohol and drink at weekends, but Krasnovas denied he got angry about it.

He said they would sometimes play fight, “a test of endurance”, but it was joke playing.

On Friday November 26 he, Erikas and Celiesius drank five bottles of vodka between them and about 15 cans of beer. They all slept in the same room and carried on drinking next day.

On the Saturday evening, the three left to go to the 5 Star Premier shop in Norwich Road.

Krasnovas claimed: “That was the last time I saw Erikas.”

He added: “Erikas just said ‘I’m off and I’ll be back soon’ and then me and Romualdas walked to the shop. We got some alcohol and went back to 14 Cocketts Drive. Erikas went towards the town centre.”

Krasnovas said that much later he visited another friend on his own, but returned to number 14 during the night.

He agreed he had used Erikas’s mobile phone during the evening but said they often borrowed each others.

He denied using a Russian phrase meaning “as I said, as I did” to Erikas and saying he would kill Erikas.

“I didn’t say I will kill you. I said I will slap you because this was the way we used to communicate with Erikas and talk with Erikas. We just knew we didn’t really mean that. I was joking,” he said.

He also denied ringing Celiesius at about 1 am and saying: “One idiot less” and he denied agreeing “a story” with Celiesius.

“There was no need to create a story,” he told the court.

Krasnovas told the jury that on the Monday someone asked him where Erikas was and he replied he didn’t know.

CONSULTANT neurosurgeon Dr Safa Al-Sarraj said that the fractured larynx suffered by the victim would have additionally caused him difficulty in breathing where he lay on his back unconscious in the park. That evening the temperature dropped to as low as minus 3 degrees.

DETECTIVE Chief Inspector Jim McCrorie, who led the murder hunt, said after the verdict: “Krasnovas had been drinking with the victim, his roommate, and an argument had broken out.

“The violence Krasnovas used to settle the matter was truly horrific. It was a sustained attack which, according to a witness, he later claimed would have been too much for anyone to survive.

“I hope this result today allows Erikas’s family and friends to begin to come to terms with their grief, knowing that justice has been done.”

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