L-R: Edgar Blazier, sponsors Sytech, DC Duffy Power, DCI Martin Brunning, Alan Webster, head judge
A team of Cambridgeshire Constabulary detectives, part of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit investigated the disappearance of Vitalija Baliutaviciene in 2011. The case soon became know at the Sat nav Killer.
On Friday 12th August 2011 she was reported missing by her son when she failed to return home at the end of the day. By the following Sunday evening it was very apparent that her ex-husband, Rimas Venclovas was loosely suspected in her disappearance and the investigation very quickly became an international enquiry to locate Vitalija and find her husband who was suspected of kidnapping her.
Following painstaking mobile telephony, CCTV and ANPR enquiries, Venclovas was arrested in Lithuania for the murder and Kidnap of Vitalija, but her body was nowhere to be found. In October 2011 the body of Vitalija was found in a shallow grave in the region of Lutol Suchy, Poland. However, at that stage she was unidentified and buried as unidentified in a lonely grave in Poland. Extensive and detailed examination of Venclovas’s Sat Nav device revealed that he had stopped at a location only 50 meters from where the body of Vitalija was found having driven her dead body through 6 countries after leaving the UK. After a revelatory investigation of the Sat Nav, and after months of searching in the UK, the senior investigating officer (SIO) sent the coordinates of every identified ‘stop’ the Sat nav recorded on the journey by Venclovas after leaving the UK. This data was sent to Interpol and Poland responded by outlining the discovery of a female body at one of the coordinates identified. DNA would prove this to be Vitalija Baliutaviciene. After a 7 week trial at The Old Bailey, a jury unanimously convicted Venclovas of Vitalija’s murder and kidnap. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
This case is considered unique in that no other SIO has exploited the data of a Sat Nav to the extent that this case has seen. The SIO could have settled for the initial results, however, and even despite having been advised by the makers of the Sat nav that the data already obtained was the best he could have hoped for, he continued to find a way into its ‘inner files’.
The outcome was a fully mapped journey of a homicide -nothing short of a revelation and the reconciliation of a body and of course a conviction for murder.
The awards were held at Tally Ho, West Midlands Police Conference Centre in Birmingham on 29 January 2014. Nine awards were given out to UK police forces, the cases between them resulted in over 500 years in jail sentences.