Two men have been jailed after the shocking and brutal death of a man in Harrogate.
Vitalijus Koreiva, 37, was found guilty of murdering Gracijus Balciauskas, 41, in a flat in the town last December. Jaroslaw Rutowicz, 39, was found guilty of his manslaughter.
At Leeds Crown Court on Thursday 22 September 2022, Koreiva was sentenced to life imprisonment. Rutowicz was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.
On Monday 20 December 2021, North Yorkshire Police received a 999 call from supermarket staff, who had been approached by a man who told them that “someone is dead”.
Officers attended immediately and the man, Rutowicz, took them to a property on Mayfield Grove.
Inside, the officers found the body of a man wrapped in a large rug in a bedroom. A post mortem later showed he had suffered severe injuries to his head and torso.
Also present in the room was Koreiva, who was asleep on the sofa. He and Rutowicz were both arrested.
As the investigation continued, police analysed Rutowicz’s phone and found disturbing and graphic videos showing assaults on the victim on the day of his death.
In one clip, filmed at 5.52am, the victim is kicked in the head and in the ribs, and cries out in pain. In another clip, filmed at 7.02am, Rutowicz, who is holding the phone, tries to roll the victim over and give him a cigarette. A clip filmed at 7.21am shows the victim lying on the floor with his eyes closed.
In interview, Koreiva told police he had gone to sleep and when he woke up he found Gracijus Balciauskas dead on the floor, and got a rug to put over him. Separately, Rutowicz told officers that Koreiva had assaulted him before attacking the victim. But both Koreiva and Rutowicz were charged in connection with his death.
CCTV showing Koreiva and Rutowicz buying alcohol hours before the attack
DCI Jonathan Sygrove, from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “The level of violence used against Gracijus Balciauskas was nothing short of brutal. The victim was subjected to a horrific assault, which led to his death. And shockingly, Mr Balciauskas was filmed with a mobile phone while he lay dying.
“When they were interviewed, Koreiva and Rutowicz blamed each other, but ultimately the evidence showed their involvement. It is right that they have now been brought to justice, and must face the consequences of their actions.”
In a statement, Gracijus’ family said: “As a family we have been deeply affected by Gracijus’ death. We will always remember him as a friendly and jovial person. Even as the months pass, the pain of his loss still remains.
“We want to deeply thank the officers and investigators at North Yorkshire Police with the investigation and doing everything they could to bring justice for him and for all of us too. We also give thanks to Victim Support for supporting us through something that no family should ever go through. We also thank everyone at the Harrogate Homeless Unit for supporting Gracijus any way they could when he was still alive.”