Killing of Lilia Valutyte

On 28 July 2022 at around 6:20 p.m. local time, Lilia Valutyte, a nine-year-old girl, was stabbed in Boston, Lincolnshire, England outside an embroidery shop.[1][2] She was later pronounced dead at Boston Pilgrim Hospital.[3] Before the attack it is understood that Valutyte was playing with hula hoops with her younger sister.[4] Deividas Skebas was found to be responsible for her killing.[5][6]

Killing of Lilia Valutyte
Photo of Lilia Valutyte
LocationBoston, Lincolnshire, England
Date28 July 2022
c. 6:20 p.m. BST (UTC+01)
Attack type
PerpetratorDeividas Skebas
VerdictUnfit to plead or stand trial
JudgeMrs Justice McGowan

Background edit

Lilia Valutyte was born on 2 February 2013 at Boston Pilgrim Hospital and lived in Boston.[7] Valutyte, who was of Lithuanian origin,[8] also had a younger sister.[4] She studied at Boston Pioneers Academy and was a pupil at Carlton Road Primary School prior to her death.[9] Valutyte also enjoyed Harry Potter.[10]

Deividas Skebas is a Lithuanian man born on 8 December 1999 who prior to his arrest was living in Boston.[11] He worked as a fruit picker.[10] He had entered the UK in 2020, before returning to his native country of Lithuania. He had then re-entered the UK on 2 July 2022, just three weeks before the killing, and had arrived in Boston later that day.[12] He suffered from a psychiatric illness and schizophrenia and had a history of previous mental illness.[13]

Killing edit

On 28 July 2022 at around 6:20 p.m. local time,[2] nine-year-old Lilia Valutyte was playing with hula hoops outside an embroidery shop on Fountain Lane, Boston with her younger sister before she was stabbed.[1][4] A man was seen on CCTV walking down Wormgate and Fountain Lane five minutes before the attack.[14] Valutyte's mother was just yards away when the attack took place and heard someone screaming "mum." She went outside to find her younger daughter standing just metres away from her big sister who was bleeding to death.[15] Valutyte was taken to Boston Pilgrim Hospital where she later died.[3]

Inquest edit

On 4 August 2022, the inquest into Valutyte's death was opened and adjourned until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.[16]

Investigation & legal proceedings edit

On 30 July 2022, a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Lilia Valutyte.[17] Two other people were also arrested but were released with no further action.[18] On the evening of 31 July 2022, 22-year-old Deividas Skebas was charged with the murder.[17] On 1 August 2022, Skebas appeared at Lincoln Crown Court; he did not enter a plea and was remanded into custody.[17] In August 2022, Skebas was attacked by prisoners at HM Prison Wakefield, West Yorkshire with a prison shank and was airlifted to hospital.[19]

Skebas was due to appear at Lincoln Crown Court for another hearing on 19 September 2022,[20] however on 23 September 2022 this was adjourned to allow reports to be carried out. Skebas did not enter a plea.[21] Another hearing took place at the same court on 9 December 2022, and again, Skebas did not enter a plea and the case was adjourned to allow additional medical assessments to be carried out.[22] An additional hearing for Skebas was held on 19 January 2023. Skebas did not attend the hearing. The case was again adjourned.[23] On 22 February 2023, a hearing took place at Lincoln Crown Court in Skebas's absence. The case was again adjourned until 28 February 2023 when a hearing was meant to take place in front of a High Court judge.[9] Skebas was also due to stand trial on this day. However, Judge Simon Hirst vacated the hearing until 17 April 2023.[24]

On 17 April 2023, it was ruled that Skebas was unfit to enter a plea or to stand a traditional trial. There would then be a trial of the facts before a jury. The trial would be to determine whether Skebas committed the act of stabbing Valutyte, though the outcome would not result in a criminal conviction. Skebas was not required to take part in these proceedings or be present in court. The trial was expected to last two days and would begin on 10 July 2023.[10]

Trial of the facts edit

The trial of the facts for Skebas began at Lincoln Crown Court on 10 July 2023.[25] The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, told the jury of six men and six women that they would "not be asked to say guilty or not guilty" and said that Skebas "is seriously mentally ill and is not here."[25]

Prosecution barrister Christopher Donnellan KC, opened the case by alleging that whilst Valutyte and her younger sister were playing with hula hoops and a toy pram outside the shop where their mother worked, Skebas had approached and increased his pace as he got closer to them.[26] Donnellan added that Valutyte had moved off the road and onto the pavement to move out of his way before Skebas had pulled a knife out of the waist of his trousers and had stabbed Valutyte through her chest and heart.[27] An off-duty police officer as well as doctors and paramedics attempted to save Valutyte, but she was confirmed dead at 7:11 p.m., less than an hour after the killing.[26] The off-duty police officer, who gave evidence at the trial, said that he noticed a male pacing close to the junction at Fountain Lane and Wormgate.[26] He claimed that his attention was drawn to the man's behaviour and that he believed that it was suspicious.[26] He then claimed that he searched for his headphones before he heard a large metallic clank.[26] He then said he turned around and saw the same male coming towards him.[26] After the man had seen the off-duty officer he claims the man "quickened."[26] The officer said he then made a few steps to follow the man before hearing a scream. He said the scream sounded like it came from an adult female and he described it as "anguished."[26] He then claimed that he immediately walked back towards Fountain Lane after hearing the scream and recalled seeing two people there: a girl on the ground, and an adult female.[26] He told the court that he took over for the girl's mother and started CPR on the girl.[26]

Police subsequently launched a manhunt in an attempt to locate the man. Skebas was arrested two days later.[26] A Sabatier paring knife was found behind a radiator at a property where Skebas was staying. The knife was consistent with the stab wound found on Valutyte.[26] It was alleged that Skebas had purchased this knife from a local Wilko shop on 26 July 2022, two days before the killing.[12] There was also a grey Calvin Klein T-shirt with blood stains matching Valutyte's DNA found at the property.[28] The trial heard that during interview Skebas had admitted to stabbing Valutyte, saying "I grabbed the knife and I stabbed her."[28] A police officer who observed Skebas in his cell also mentioned of his "unique walk."[28] CCTV footage of Skebas's route from the street where he was living to Fountain Lane at 5:08 p.m. on the day of the killing was also captured.[28]

Andrew Campbell-Tiech KC, Skebas's defence barrister, said that he was unable to challenge any of the evidence as he had "no instruction."[26] He claimed that he had "acknowledged" the death of a child at the hands of a stranger was a "nightmare" but also told jurors that he believed the answers Skebas gave in interview "are bizarre in the extreme."[12]

Following the two-day trial, on 11 July 2023, the jury found Skebas to have been responsible for the act of stabbing Valutyte. It took 30 minutes of deliberating to reach this verdict. He was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order at Rampton secure hospital, Nottinghamshire.[6] The judge said that Skebas could face a traditional trial at a later date if his mental health had improved.[6]

Reactions edit

Priti Patel, the then Home Secretary tweeted that she was "appalled" by the killing.[29]

Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness tweeted: "it is vital that those responsible are brought to justice."[29]

Aftermath edit

Funeral edit

On 2 September 2022, Lilia Valutyte's funeral was held at St Botolph's Church, Boston. Her coffin was carried by a white horse-drawn carriage. Her small white coffin was covered in butterflies and was carried by pallbearers wearing pink ties. Flowers and other tributes were also left in memory of Valutyte.[30] Many teddy bears were also left in memory of Valutyte. It was later revealed that Valutyte's mother had donated these teddy bears to families in Lithuania and to Ukrainian refugees.[31]

Memorials edit

In February 2023, Valutyte's mother revealed that there were plans to build a memorial in memory of Valutyte. The memorial would be a child-sized metal sculpture of a girl playing with hula hoops, as this was what Valutyte was doing in her final moments. This memorial would be built in a memorial garden near Wormgate.[31] Valutyte is also remembered by a mosaic bearing her name and an image of an angel on public display in Dolphin Lane. The artwork is part of a large piece and also features the Baltic symbol of unity along with the phrase "Unity is Strength."[31]

Mother's election as local councillor edit

In April 2023, it was reported that Lina Savickiene, Valutyte's mother, had been nominated to stand up as councillor for Boston as part of the Boston Independents group. Savickiene had attended a meeting relating to public safety in the town and had encouraged the community to "come together" following the death of her daughter.[32] In May 2023, it was reported that Savickiene had been elected as Boston councillor following the 2023 local elections.[33]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Lilia Valutyte: Stabbed girl, 9, died of chest wound - inquest". BBC News. 4 August 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b Laver, Adam (17 April 2023). "Man deemed unfit to plead over murder of Lincs girl". LincolnshireLive. Retrieved 19 April 2023.
  3. ^ a b Kingsley, Thomas (4 August 2022). "Lilia Valutyte, 9, died from stab wound to chest, inquest finds". Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Parekh, Marcus (4 August 2022). "Lilia Valutyte: CCTV emerges of murdered girl's final moments as she played hula hoop with younger sister". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Lilia Valutyte: Man accused of murdering girl, 9, appears in court". BBC News. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b c "Lilia Valutyte stabbing: Man killed nine-year-old girl, jury finds". BBC News. 11 July 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  7. ^ Turner, Julian (4 August 2022). "Nine-year-old Lilia Valutyte died from stab wound to the chest". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Nine-year-old girl stabbed to death in Lincolnshire named as Lilia Valutyte". Sky News. 30 July 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  9. ^ a b Whitelam, Paul (22 February 2023). "Man accused of murdering 9-year-old Lilia Valutyte in Boston has case adjourned". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  10. ^ a b c "Lilia Valutyte: Deividas Skebas unfit to plead to murder, court told". BBC News. 17 April 2023. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Man charged with the murder of Boston girl Lilia Valutyte appears in court". LincolnshireWorld. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  12. ^ a b c Vamplew, Richard (10 July 2023). "Lilia Valutyte 'stabbed to death' as she played with sister". LincolnshireLive. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  13. ^ "Man who stabbed nine-year-old girl to death in Boston sentenced". LincolnshireWorld. 11 July 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  14. ^ Hardy, Jack (1 August 2022). "Lilia Valutyte stabbing: Deividas Skebas appears in court charged with nine-year-old girl's murder". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  15. ^ Giordano, Chiara (7 August 2022). "Lilia Valutyte: Mother of girl, 9, stabbed in street relives moment she found daughter bleeding to death". Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Lilia Valutyte: Stabbed girl, 9, died of chest wound - inquest". BBC News. 4 August 2022. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  17. ^ a b c "Man, 22, charged with murder of Lilia Valutyte". Lincolnshire Police. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  18. ^ Osbourne, Samuel (1 August 2022). "Man accused of murdering nine-year-old Lilia Valutyte appears in court". Sky News. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  19. ^ Dresch, Matthew (27 August 2022). "Man, 22, accused of murdering Lilia Valutyte, 9, is assaulted in jail attack". Mirror. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  20. ^ Payne, Josh (1 August 2022). "Lilia Valutyte: Man appears in crown court charged with murdering girl, 9, who was stabbed in street". Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  21. ^ Vernalls, Richard (23 September 2022). "Trial date set for man accused of murdering nine-year-old Lilia Valutyte". Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  22. ^ Laver, Adam (9 December 2022). "Court case against man accused of murdering Lilia Valutyte, 9, adjourned for further medical assessments". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  23. ^ Whitelam, Paul (19 January 2023). "Case of man accused of murdering Lilia Valutyte in Boston is adjourned". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  24. ^ "Lilia Valutyte: Trial of murder accused adjourned until April". BBC News. 24 February 2023. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  25. ^ a b Vamplew, Richard (10 July 2023). "Lilia Valutyte murder: Jurors to decide if man killed girl". LincolnshireLive. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Lilia Valutyte stabbing: Jury to decide if defendant killed girl, 9". BBC News. 10 July 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  27. ^ "Girl murdered while playing in the street, court told". ITV News. 10 July 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  28. ^ a b c d "Jury retires to decide if man killed nine-year-old by stabbing her in the heart". Independent. 11 July 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2023.
  29. ^ a b Laver, Adam (29 July 2022). "Priti Patel offers support for Lincolnshire Police's murder investigation into nine-year-old's death". Lincolnshire Live. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  30. ^ "Lilia Valutyte: Funeral held for Boston stabbing victim". BBC News. 2 September 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2023.
  31. ^ a b c Whitelam, Paul (8 February 2023). "Plan for Lilia Valutyte sculpture of her playing in 'last minutes'". LincolnshireLive. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  32. ^ Mann, Sebastian; Jaines, Daniel (6 April 2023). "Lilia Valutyte: Mother of 9-year-old to stand as councillor". LincolnshireLive. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  33. ^ "Local elections 2023: Mum of stabbing victim Lilia Valutyte elected as Boston councillor". ITV News. 5 May 2023. Retrieved 10 May 2023.