Bury St Edmunds: Man sentenced to life following brutal murder of jeweller
A man has been sentenced to life in prison following the brutal murder of a vulnerable pensioner and a burglary at a jewellery store in Bury St Edmunds.
Pytor Melanuik (also known as Ireneusz Melanuik) was told at Ipswich Crown Court that he will serve at least 26 years behind bars.
He also received a sentence of four years and eight months for burglary, to run concurrently, after earlier pleading guilty to the murder of 66-year-old Peter Avis and domestic burglary.
Suffolk Police were called by a member of the public at around 9.10 am on Friday January 13 2012 to a property in Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds following concerns for the occupant at the address.
Once the property was entered the body of Peter Avis was found in a first floor flat and it was discovered that the flat and jewellery store below - ‘Collis & Son’ - had been burgled.
A post mortem examination found that Mr Avis had died from multiple stab wounds and had suffered serious head injuries.
Large quantities of jewellery, watches, cutlery, silverware and ornaments had been stolen from the store.
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The Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team (MIT) took on the investigation into the murder of Mr Avis, which resulted from the burglary.
Initial enquiries were conducted by a team of around 40 officers from the MIT and local officers with the assistance of officers from the Metropolitan Police, Sussex and Hertfordshire.
As the investigation developed Polish law enforcement agencies also assisted to help detain one of the main offenders, Melanuik, who later pleaded guilty to the murder of Peter Avis.
CCTV images were obtained from Bury St Edmunds, London and numerous routes in between. Forensic examination of the scene and other locations were undertaken over a number of weeks to find vital evidence to help convict those involved. Over 720 statements were taken.
On January 13 2012, a member of the public, who had seen someone acting suspiciously in a Honda car in the Haringey area of London, contacted the Metropolitan Police.
Pawel Pacian, a 34-year-old unemployed man from Lake Avenue in Bury St Edmunds, was stopped by the officers and found to be in possession of a quantity of jewellery items.
He was arrested by Metropolitan Police officers who contacted Suffolk Constabulary and subsequently the link to the burglary was established.
On January 17 Pacian was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary.
Pacian pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods at a court hearing held on the September 4 2012.
A second man, 31-year-old car salesman, Pawel Borowiecki from Roslyn Road in London was arrested in London on January 15 on suspicion of murder, he was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary on January 18.
On January 25 2012, following extensive enquiries carried out by the Major Investigation Team Ireneusz Melanuik was posted as wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of Peter Avis.
Melanuik’s photographs were publicised on posters produced in English and Polish and distributed both locally and around the country where it was understood Melanuik had connections. Suffolk Constabulary in conjunction with Crimestoppers also offered a �5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and charge.
On the same day 21-year-old unemployed man Kamil Kita, of no fixed abode, who had been arrested on January 23 in London, was charged with the murder of Peter Avis. Kita pleaded guilty to an offence of burglary on September 4.
On February 17 Ireneusz Melanuik was detained in Poland following close liaison with Polish law enforcement agencies.
Aleksandra Karpiuk, a 27-year-old security employee from Lake Avenue, Bury St Edmunds was charged with conspiracy to commit a burglary between December 1 2011 and 13th January 2012 on April 23 2012.
Ireneusz Melanuik returned to the UK on July 3 2012 under a European Arrest Warrant, he appeared at Ipswich Magistrates Court on July 4 charged with murder.
Melanuik pleaded guilty to murder and domestic burglary at a plea and case management hearing on August 13 2012.
Having pleaded not guilty to their charges, Pawel Borowiecki and Aleksandra Karpiuk stood trial at Ipswich Crown Court week commencing September 24 2012. Following a two-week trial, on the October 9 the jury found Borowiecki guilty of conspiracy to burgle and Karpiuk guilty of conspiracy to burgle and assisting offenders.
The sentencing today follows an earlier sentencing hearing held on Thursday November 1 for the four other defendants, where the Judge at Ipswich Crown Court issued the following sentences:
Pawel Pacian – 18 months for handling stolen goods.
Kamil Kita – Three years for burglary.
Pawel Borowiecki - Five years for conspiracy to burgle.
Aleksandra Karpiuk – Four years, two years for conspiracy to burgle and two years for assisting offenders.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Luckett from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team who lead the enquiry said: “This was a particularly brutal crime against a vulnerable, elderly man. Peter Avis was a very private man who lived alone and had been involved with his jewellery business for many years. This was a pre-planned attack intending to steal valuable property from a defenceless victim. His murder as part of that burglary was senseless.
“This was a fast moving, intensive and complex enquiry where an organised criminal gang, controlled by Borowiecki, travelled from London to commit this crime, there is no doubt they were assisted by information provided locally by Karpiuk. Melanuik murdered Mr Avis by beating him about the head and then stabbing him several times. Kita was a willing accomplice in the burglary.
“After committing this offence Melanuik went on the run, regularly moving between locations in London and Brighton and infrequently using associates telephones. As part of an intensive ‘manhunt’ the investigation carried out over 20 searches of premises in an effort to apprehend him. He eventually left the country and, whilst it is not clear how he achieved this, it is very likely that this was not through legitimate channels.
“We had significant help from other forces during this enquiry, particularly the Met, Sussex and Hertfordshire. We also had considerable help from the Polish community living in London, where many of our enquiries lead to, and from law enforcement agencies in Poland where Melanuik was eventually detained on 17th February– I am extremely grateful to all involved.
“On a personal note, I would like to thank the investigation and prosecution teams who worked on this case. Their tireless efforts ensured those responsible were brought to justice. The investigating team took over 700 statements, undertook extensive forensic examination of properties in Suffolk and London and trawled through over 600 hours of CCTV footage seized locally, from Stansted Airport, the London area and routes in between. All of this detailed work ensured the guilty pleas and verdicts.
“My thoughts are with Peter Avis’ family and friends at the conclusion of this trial as this has been a very difficult time for them. Like many who have been involved in this case they cannot understand why Peter Avis was murdered as he posed no threat to anyone.”
Statement from Peter Avis’ family: “Today justice is seen to be done, and the family of Peter Avis can finally come to terms with his dreadful and untimely death.
“The police have been hugely supportive throughout the last 9 � months. The family are extremely grateful for their kind and compassionate help.
“It is sincerely hoped that the UK Border Agency will in future tighten up the controls to prevent such dangerous criminals entering this country.”