Court hears emotional impact statements as man receives life sentence for murder

The sister of a 30-year-old Latvian man who was strangled to death by a fellow Latvian has said she misses her brother every day and she still cannot believe that he is dead. The testimony was heard as part of a victim impact statement read yesterday (Wednesday ) to the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, where a 31-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for murdering the woman’s brother.

Andrejs Krauze, of Dudley Heights, Glenamaddy, Co Galway had pleaded not guilty to murdering Juris 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.

On March 29 last, a jury of six men and six women deliberated for nearly five hours before finding Krauze guilty of murdering Mr Buls. It was the prosecution’s case that Krauze murdered Mr Buls after he refused to withdraw a complaint which concerned an assault charge.

Yesterday morning, prosecution counsel Mr Alex Owens SC said that no relatives of the deceased were in a position to travel to Ireland for today’s sentence and therefore he would read two victim impact statements to the court. Mr Owens called Detective Inspector Michael Coppinger, from Galway Garda Station, to take the stand.

Mr Owens then read the first victim impact statement from Ilze Buls, a younger sister of the deceased. Ms Buls said it had been more than five years since she lost her “big brother Juris”.

She said she called him “Jurka” and he was “the man” of their family. “He used to fix things, look after the vegetable garden and do the manly jobs. I was very close with my brother and loved him so much.

“I would spend all my time with Jurka and he taught me all the jobs around the house. I miss him every day,” she said. Ms Buls said Jurka met Oksana Radzevica in Latvia and they had a son together. “Jurka loved his family very much and tried to provide for his family the best he could. The situation in Latvia with jobs and money was very difficult so Jurka went to Ireland to look for a job.

“Jurka worked very hard and would send the money he made home to support Oksana and [their son],” she said. Ms Buls said when her family heard the news about the death of her brother they were “devastated”. “When [his son] found out about the death of his father he was only nine years of age. He was so upset, he wouldn’t stop crying and wouldn’t let his mother leave him even for a second as he was afraid something similar would happen to her as well,” she said.

Ms Buls said their “lives have changed forever” and every time she goes to her brother’s grave she has “tears” in her eyes. “I have never seen his body as his coffin was closed at the funeral. I still can’t believe that Jurka is dead. I still believe that my brother is alive, that he is working in Ireland and he will come back to visit us,” she said. “It was very difficult since he went missing. We hoped that he was alive. We did not think that someone could do this. When the corpse was discovered, all hopes were lost. I almost lost my mind. Our lives were changed.

We still cannot believe that we will not see him again. Those who did this and ran away, they are animals not humans,” she said. Mr Owens then read the second victim impact statement from Oksana Radzevica, a former partner of the deceased and mother to their son. Ms Radzevica said that she and her son were making plans in June 2011 to visit Juris in Glenamaddy when she got a call from Ilze Buls on July 10 to say that Juris was missing.

“I know Juris as a person who lives life going from home to work and work to home. Juris is not a person who stays outside in other peoples houses and he never missed work. So when I found out that he didn’t turn up at work and didn’t stay home overnight, it wasn’t looking like his behaviour,” she said. Ms Radzevica said Juris Buls’s body was found two weeks later and she could not believe it. “It is so painful to realise that he wasn’t alive anymore, my mind couldn’t accept it.”

Ms Radzevica said it was “very difficult” for her to “find the right words to explain” what had happened to Juris to her son. “[My son] was screaming, he was crying, he was so horribly upset. It was so hard for me to see [my son’s] pain. He was asking questions. How it happened? Where? Who? Of course I couldn’t go into details how his father had been killed,” she said. “Even now it has passed nearly six years but it is still fear and nightmares. The thoughts are following us and honestly I do not think it will heal. Now and forever I have to work to get basic support for me and my son which is very difficult as a single mother,” she said.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan then sentenced Krauze to the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The sentence was backdated to January 13, 2016. The judge said she wanted to make one comment regarding a prosecution witness in the case, Detective Garda Cormac Bane from Tuam Garda Station. “I’ve presided over quite a number of criminal trials where one has had to view video evidence in relation to matters. I have never seen material prepared and presented in such a meticulous and considered manner,” she said.

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