Man found guilty of double murder during Russian New Year celebration

A man has been found guilty of murdering two friends during a drunken celebration of the Russian New Year.

Georgian national Vepkhvia Laliashvili, 51, fatally stabbed Lithuanians Dainius Kulboka, 44, and Jonas Semenas, 44, in January last year.

Beforehand, Laliashvili, who worked in the motor trade, had shared five bottles of brandy with the victims.

The reason for the violence is not known but it was claimed that the defendant owed the victims some £30,000, the court heard.

Dainius Kulboka
Dainius Kulboka (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Shortly after midnight on January 10 last year, the victims were found dead in Mr Kulboka’s home in Tavistock Gardens in Ilford, east London, where all three had spent the evening drinking.

Prosecutor James Dawes QC had told jurors the evidence indicated that Laliashvili killed or incapacitated one man and then killed the other.

The defendant used knives he found at the house to inflict eight deep stab wounds to Mr Kulboka, and 52 stab injuries Mr Semenas, some very deep, the court heard.

The prosecution asserted that sounds of the attack could be heard on a doorbell camera opposite the house.

One of the victims could be heard pleading with the defendant to stop after he had apparently already stabbed the other.

In distressing audio played in court, a voice could be heard begging: “Please don’t kill, please don’t stab him.

“What are you doing? … Don’t stab him. What has he done to you?”

As the attack continued, the defendant phoned his partner to pick him up, jurors were told.

Jonas Semena
Jonas Semenas (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The police officers entered the house and found the bloody remains of Mr Kulboka in the hallway and the second victim lying near the patio doors.

There was blood on the walls, floors and curtains on the ground floor.

A small amount of cocaine was found in the flat and both victims had the drug in their systems.

The defendant was arrested two days later.

Laliashvili, from Paistow, east London, who was formerly known as Vytautas Garmus, had denied two counts of murder.

Giving evidence, he claimed he had no memory of events but said he would not have attacked the two men, who worked in construction.

A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for less than a day to find him guilty.

Mr Justice Wall adjourned sentencing until Thursday.

Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Allen, of Scotland Yard, said: “Dainius and Jonas were subjected to a frenzied attack by a man who they thought was their friend.

“My thoughts are with their families as they continue to deal with the pain of losing a loved one in such awful circumstances.

“My team of detectives carried out a complex and detailed investigation, which involved speaking to several witnesses and reviewing a large amount of CCTV footage and phone data.

“I am pleased that our work has resulted in a dangerous man being convicted and it is right that he will now spend a considerable time in prison.”