HMA v Tomas Gulbinavicius and Janis Karajevs

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (8 December 2017) Lord Uist sentenced Tomas Gulbinavicius and Janis Karajevs to life imprisonment (punishment part 13 years and 14 years respectively) after the accused were found guilty of murder. On sentencing Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You were both convicted by the jury at Aberdeen High Court of the murder in January of this year of Aleksejus Zarskus, a man then aged 42, at the flat at 684G King Street, Aberdeen of which you, Tomas Gulbinavicius, were then the tenant.

“On 15 January, in the course of an argument when you were all drunk, both of you battered him repeatedly on the head and body by punching, kicking and stamping on him, as a result of which he died in hospital from blunt force head trauma on 19 January.

“He suffered widespread bruising over his face from the eyes to the neck as well as extensive fracturing of the facial bones and a fractured right jaw. After you had assaulted him you did nothing to seek medical help for him and failed to answer the door to the police, who had to force entry to the house.

“A downstairs neighbour who heard the commotion in the flat above described banging which continued for 10 or 20 minutes, which caused her to think someone was getting beaten up and seriously hurt upstairs and a visitor to her flat said that it sounded like somebody was coming through the ceiling.

“In imposing sentence I take into account all that has been said in mitigation and the contents of the criminal justice social work reports. I also take into account that no lethal weapon, such as a knife or the like, was used and the murder was not premeditated. Nevertheless Mr Zarskus lost his life as a result of what was obviously a ferocious attack by both of you.

“The sentence for murder is fixed by law, but in the case of each of you I must also impose a punishment part of the sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence before you can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland for release on licence. You must not assume that you will be released at the end of the punishment period: you will be released only when it is considered no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison. I now turn to deal with each of you separately.

“I deal first with you, Tomas Gulbinavicius. You are now 33 years of age. You have one minor conviction for shoplifting, which I ignore for present purposes. You came to this country in 2009 and have been in employment for most of the time you have spent here. You have a history of alcohol abuse. Mr Zarskus was a friend of yours for whom you were providing temporary accommodation at the material time. I sentence you to imprisonment for life from 27 October 2017 with a punishment part of 13 years.

“I turn now to deal with you, Janis Karajevs. You are now almost 31 years old. You came to this country in 2008 and have been employed by agencies, with short periods of unemployment. You also have a history of alcohol abuse. You have convictions for a total of 16 offences between 2009 and 2016, including six assaults. You have been sentenced to imprisonment on three separate occasions for assault. I sentence you to imprisonment for life from 17 January 2017 with a punishment part of 14 years.”