A 36-YEAR-OLD Wyedean father-of-two will serve at least 18 years behind bars for the murder of his friend after inviting him to a party.
Neighbours were left shocked on Sunday morning, October 2, when Kestutis Lekunas stabbed 40-year-old Nerijus Liukpetris to death outside his home in a quiet Ross-on-Wye cul-de-sac.
Lekunas, who comes from Lithuania, was convicted after a trial at Worcester Crown Court at the end of March, and sentenced to life with a minimum 18-year term today (May 4).
The court heard the pair had been at a party at Lekunas’ Bluebell Close house overnight, and became involved in an argument in the street outside around 9.30am.
The dispute then spilled over into violence when Lekunas went back into the house and came back outside armed with a nine-inch long kitchen knife.
He ran at his friend and was hit with a golf club before chasing him down the street and delivering a fatal stab wound to his neck.
Emergency services were called by the defendant immediately after the attack, but despite the arrival of an air ambulance and other paramedics, Liukpetris was pronounced dead at the scene.
Defence barrister Felicia Davy said Lekunas regretted his actions and had expressed remorse.
Describing it as a “tragedy of significant proportion”, Judge James Burbidge said Lekunas had worked in the UK for 12 years, had no previous convictions and was a loving, family man with two young children.
But he jailed him for a minimum of 18 years before he can be considered for parole.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Steve Cook, said after May 4’s sentencing: “I’m pleased that the case has concluded today and that Lekunas will now pay the price for his actions on that night back in October.
“This case is a devastating example of the consequences which can come from a split-second decision when tensions are high. Our thoughts remain with Nerijus’s family at this difficult time.”
He had previously said following the conclusion of the murder trial: “I’m pleased with today’s result and that justice has been done for Nerijus’s family.
“Although this was an isolated incident, it highlights the devastating impact that knife crime can have.
“The use of knives is simply not acceptable and will not be tolerated. I hope today’s case sends a clear message to those who are involved in knife crime that we can and do take action.”
A 39-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after the incident but was later released without any further action.