A Latvian man has been found guilty of murder after he strangled a fellow Latvian who had filed a complaint against him to the gardai. It was the prosecution’s case that 31-year-old Andresj Krauze murdered Juris Buls (30 ) after he refused to withdraw his complaint.
Krauze, of Dudley Heights, Glenamaddy, Co Galway, pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Mr Buls at an unknown time on July 7 or 8, 2011 in the county of Galway. The victim’s decomposed body was found in a drain two weeks later.
The jury of six men and six women took just under five hours to reach their unanimous guilty verdict after a three-week trial. Justice Margaret Heneghan said she would hand down the mandatory life sentence on April 26 when the victim’s sister will make a statement to the court.
Justice Heneghan thanked the jury for their diligence and exempted them from further jury service for 15 years. Krauze did not react as the verdict was translated to him by an interpreter.
The whereabouts of Juris Buls first became a concern when he failed to show up for his midnight shift at the Titan Plastics factory where he had worked since arriving in Ireland in 2005.
He was described as a good man and a hard worker who had come to Ireland for a better life. It was highly unusual for him to be late for work so his co-workers were immediately concerned.
Mr Buls’s girlfriend, Alona Alika, last saw him at 10.45pm on July 7 and reported him missing to gardai on the morning of July 9. On July 23 of that year, acting on information, gardai searched Funshin Wood, near Glenamaddy. The accused man’s brother Sergejs Krauze accompanied gardai to the search site where Sergeant Shane Birmingham discovered “something unusual in water in a drain”.
Sergejs Krauze, the jury heard, had, in July 2013 pleaded guilty to manslaughter in relation to Mr Buls’s death. Describing the scene Sgt Birmingham said: “I was walking in the wood with a drain between me and the roadway. I noticed something unusual in water in a drain, a murky kind of a drain with a lot of algae in it. It looked to be the heel of a boot or a shoe.”
He said he reached in with a slash hook to touch the heel, which was sticking up out of the water.
“When I touched the boot, I immediately knew that there was a body there,” he said.
When they had identified the body, Krauze was immediately a suspect but he had fled to Northern Ireland and then to England where he was arrested and extradited to Latvia where he was wanted for offences.
Gardai applied to have him returned to Ireland once he had finished his sentence in Latvia. In March 2012 two gardai travelled to Riga to interview Krauze. During that interview he claimed he had given Juris Buls €600 to withdraw the assault complaint and decided to confront his compatriot when he discovered the complaint was not withdrawn. On July 7 he confronted Mr Buls at the victim’s home and demanded his money back. He said there was a fight and he grabbed Juris by the neck and squeezed.
He then put Mr Buls’s body in the back of his victim’s car and drove to “some sort of wilderness where there were fallen trees.” He saw a ditch and dumped the body there before driving to Northern Ireland. Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the cause of death was strangulation and was more consistent with an armlock or headlock than with a rope or other ligature.
Justice Heneghan, in her charge to the jury on Monday, gave the jury three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
She said if the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Krauze was responsible for Mr Buls’s death, that he was not acting in self defence and that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, the jury was duty bound to find him guilty of murder.