Life sentence for axe murder of a man found on beach

Marius Gaizutis was charged with murdering Audrius Butkus in 2013

Marius Gaizutis (52) of Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth was charged with murdering Audrius Butkus (44).

Marius Gaizutis (52) of Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth was charged with murdering Audrius Butkus (44).

 

A father-of-five has been handed down a life sentence at the Central Criminal Court for the axe murder of a Lithuanian national whose body was found on a Meath beach.

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

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

On May 1st a jury which was made up of four women and eight men found Gaizutis guilty of the charge by unanimous verdict after deliberating for two hours and 40 minutes.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan has said the murderer who was convicted unanimously was a “shocking case.”

“We have heard about the deceased who had come to Ireland and had no known relatives and was buried with the assistance of a homeless group in St Peters Cemetery in Drogheda. We have heard he had difficulties throughout his life but this is still a shocking end to this man’s life, “ said the judge.

Ms Justice Heneghan then handed Gaizutis down a mandatory life sentence which she back dated to when he was taken into custody on October 2 2013.

Today Mr Patrick Gageby SC called Detective Sergeant Liam Archibold attached to Laytown Garda Station who confirmed that the body of Mr Butkus was found on a Meath beach on September 10 2013 and he met his death from “multiple blows” of an axe to the back of his head.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy gave evidence during the trial where she said 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 there was strong evidence that not a very successful clean up had occurred at Gaizutis’s house which Det Sgt Archibold agreed with.

The court heard Gaizutis travelled to Northern Ireland for several weeks and subsequently returned and handed himself up on September 29 2013.

Det Sgt Archibold accepted there had been a row between Mr Butkus and Gaizutis after having met each other by chance when Mr Buktus was drinking with other people.

The prosecution counsel went on to indicate there had been a disagreement between the two men at the premises of Gaizutis’s house and the convicted had taken an axe to the head of Mr Buktus which resulted in his head injuries.

Mr Gageby said Gaizutis was then charged with the murder of Mr Buktus and his trial then commenced last month on April 20 and he has stayed in custody until then.

Det Sgt Archibold told the court that the deceased Mr Butkus was born in Lithuania, he was a single man with no children and had lived in Drogheda for the last six years and was homeless at the time of his death.

The Det Sgt said he had tracked down the second cousin of the deceased who was the only known relative at the time of his death and he told the gardai his mother had died and it was not known the whereabouts of his father.

“We were told he had a sister in Lithuania through Interpol but we were unable to track down any other member of his family. Mr Butkus received assistance from homeless aid in Drogheda and he got a plot and was buried in St Peters Cemetery in Drogheda,” said Det Sgt Archibold.

Regarding Gaizutis Mr Gageby said he had been a resident in Ireland since October 2009 and had some minor convictions.

Defence counsel Mr Ciaran O’Loughlin SC said there were no witnesses present at the time of Mr Butkus’s death, and he told the court that Gaizutis had returned from the North voluntarily and arrived at Laytown Garda Station by appointment.

“Gaizutis had indicated he had been attacked initially with a bottle to the head and a knife was picked up by Mr Buktus but he wasn’t struck by the knife,” said the defence counsel.

The court heard that on October 2nd, 2013 the convicted man entered custody but Mr O’Loughlin said these circumstances were different to other murder cases where there was a lot of advance planning.