Man is sentenced to life for murder of workmate

 

A 35-year-old worker at a poultry factory in Co Monaghan has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a jury found him guilty of the murder of a workmate last year.

In the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday, Algimantas Stankevicius, a Lithuanian national with a last address at Bridge Street, Cootehill, Co Cavan, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of a compatriot, Arunas Petrauskas (46), Main Street, Cootehill, at the Cootehill Poultry Products factory in Dyan, Co Monaghan, on February 23rd, 2002.

Mr Petrauskas died from a stab wound after a fight with Stankevicius.

After more than five hours deliberating, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder.

Mr Justice O'Higgins immediately sentenced Stankevicius to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for the murder.

Mr Petrauskas's widow, Ms Vida Petrauskiene, said the verdict showed that "everything was fair" but she said it was a tragedy for both sides.

"I cannot feel relief," she said, adding that she was still left with her loss.

The prosecution's case was that Stankevicius left a fist fight between them and returned armed with a chicken filleting knife to stab Mr Petrauskas, who was getting the upper hand in the fight.

The jury heard that the fight started with an argument over petty workplace jealousies.

The defence had claimed that although Mr Petrauskas had got the upper hand in the fight, he pursued Stankevicius into the factory with the intention of continuing the fight.

Mr Sean Moylan SC, defending, argued that Stankevicius acted in self defence in arming himself with the knife, and that in any case, the facts suggested an accidental rather than an intentional stabbing.

The jury rejected that defence case and by a unanimous verdict, convicted Stankevicius of murder.

Mr Justice O'Higgins refused him leave to appeal the verdict.