Jury finds man (52) guilty of Drogheda axe murder

Marius Gaizutis killed Audrius Butkus in Co Louth in 2013

Marius Gaizutis of Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth: found guilty of murder.

Marius Gaizutis of Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth: found guilty of murder.

 

A father-of-five has been found guilty at the Central Criminal Court of the axe murder of a man whose body was found on a Meath beach.

Marius Gaizutis (52), a Latvian national of Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth was charged with murdering Lithuanian national Audrius Butkus (44) at that address on September 9th or 10th, 2013.

Gaizutis pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter when he was arraigned before the Central Criminal Court last month. His plea was not acceptable to the State and a jury was sworn in to try him.

The Central Criminal Court jury found Gaizutis guilty of the charge by unanimous verdict after deliberating for two hours and forty minutes.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan thanked the jury members for the important work they did and exempted them from jury service for the next 20 years.

Opening the prosecution’s case, Patrick Gageby SC said it was beyond argument that Mr Butkus met his death from some sharp and heavy implement, possibly an axe, to the back of his head.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy gave evidence in the trial and told the jury how Mr Butkus died from blunt force trauma to the head which was consistent with having been struck by an object with a “rectangular surface”.

Mr Gageby said Gaizutis was from Latvia but had been living in Ireland for a number of years. He lived in a house on Marsh Road in Drogheda with his partner and their five children.

The court also heard that Mr Butkus was from Lithuania and he had come to Ireland in 2006 or 2007 as he had a second cousin living in Drogheda.

The prosecuting counsel said the deceased soon fell into a pattern of heavy drinking.

Reading from Gaizutis’s statements, the court heard from Mr Gageby that Gaizutis met Mr Butkus at the back of Tesco on September 9th, 2013 and invited him back to his house on Marsh Road where he had a bottle of rum.

Mr Gageby read that Mr Butkus went to the toilet at some stage that night and Gaizutis smelt smoke coming from the toilet and when he approached he saw Mr Butkus asleep on the toilet with a cigarette in his hand.

“We would normally keep inflammable liquids in the toilet so I told him he was not allowed to smoke in there as it was too dangerous. He got angry and told me to fuck off so I punched him in the jaw,” read Mr Gageby.

The court heard the accused man claimed Mr Butkus punched him in the head with a bottle and a struggle ensued.

“He had the broken bottle in his hand and was stabbing me with it, I was trying to knock it out of his hand and take it off him. He told me he would burn my house to the ground and kill the members of my family. I kept my tools in the toilet and took an axe and I punched him with an axe and then I just snapped and I don’t know what happened,” read Mr Gageby.

Ms Justice Heneghan remanded Gaizutis in custody until May 20th when a sentencing date will be fixed.