Charity worker jailed for killing flatmate in Falkirk

A killer who stabbed a friend and colleague to death after drinking has been jailed for six years.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 9th January 2020, 12:51 pm

Zilvinas Popovas (38) became involved in a struggle with Tomas Svezas and struck him twice with a knife, with one of the blows penetrating his heart.

A judge told Popovas today (Thursday) that victim impact statements prepared by relatives of the deceased revealed the “devastating consequences” of his actions on family members.

Lord Woolman said: “His mother says ‘I have been hurt for the rest of my life and can’t come to terms with my son’s death’.”

The incident happened at a property in Westfield Street in June.

The judge said: “Tomas’ death aged 22 is a tragedy for his family.”

Lord Woolman said at the High Court in Edinburgh that there was not apparent animosity between the men prior to the “terrible incident”. He added: “You had worked together and then become flatmates.”

Twenty minutes before the attack footage was streamed on Facebook of the two men dancing with another flatmate.

Lord Woolman said: “Drink lies at the centre of this case.”

The judge told Popovas: “You were so drunk that staff at the local Tesco supermarket refused to serve you alcohol.”

He said that Mr Svezas appeared to have started the incident for “some unexplained reason” by hitting Popovas on the head with a mug which smashed and caused a wound.

Popovas then used a knife which had been sitting on top of a fridge to stab his victim in the chest.

Lord Woolman told Popovas that he took into account his lack of previous criminal offending, the provocation he had faced, his remorse and that he presented a relatively low risk of re-offending.

He said: “But you have taken a man’s life. Alcohol consumption is no excuse. You are responsible for your actions.”

He told Popovas that he would have jailed him for nine years if he was convicted after a trial but that would be discounted following his early guilty plea.

Popovas was originally charged with murdering Mr Svezas in the attack at the property in Westfield Street, Falkirk, by repeatedly stabbing him on the body with a knife on June 21 last year.

But the Crown earlier accepted his guilty plea to the lesser crime of culpable homicide on the basis of provocation.

Advocate depute Derick Nelson said: “The whole altercation appears to have been brief. The basis of the plea accepted is there was momentary loss of control due to the provocation offered by Mr Svezas.”

The two Lithuanian men had worked for a charity delivering leaflets and collecting clothing and stayed with others at the property in Westfield Street.

Mr Nelson said: “There does not appear to have been any animosity between them prior to the night in question.”

The court heard that ambulance personnel arrived quickly at the house after a 999 call but it was too late to save the stabbing victim.

Donald Findlay QC, for Popovas, said the now deceased had come into Popovas room and inflicted violence on him.

The defence counsel said: “He is deeply regretful at what happened and is struggling, in many ways, to come to terms with what happened.”

He said a background report prepared on Popovas confirmed he “is deeply affected by this matter and bitterly regrets the death of man who was a friend”.