Jury finds woman guilty of killing housemate at remote Peebles farm

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A WOMAN who tied up her housemate at a remote Peeblesshire farm before arming herself with a knife and stabbing him repeatedly was convicted of killing him.

Eliska Novotna admitted repeatedly stabbing Arunas Ramanauskas at the Old Farmhouse at Easter Happrew Farm, between Peebles and Stobo, last October.

But the 23-year-old from the Czech Republic denied a charge of murder – claiming she had acted in self defence because Mr Ramanauskas had tried to sexually assault her.

She had told a police officer that they “played sexual games – then I killed him”.

After an eight-day trial at the High Court in Dundee, a jury on Tuesday took almost two hours to find her guilty of the lesser crime of culpable homicide.

She now faces a long jail term when she is sentenced next month.

Novotna earlier told the court how she tied a dressing gown cord round her Lithuanian housemate’s eyes and neck before arming herself with a knife, walking topless into his room then stabbing him to death.

She said she stabbed him up to six times.

The jury was shown graphic pictures of Mr Ramanauskas’s body lying on the floor with the blindfold still on. Pools of blood could be seen on his bed, while the court heard the 39-year-old had suffered serious stab wounds on his chest and leg.

PC Vanessa Hamilton told how she came across Novotna walking on a road into Peebles near the town’s police station in the early hours of October 8.

Novotna later told her: “We played some sexual games – then I killed him.”

The court heard that police investigating the murder found a stash of sex toys in a bedside cabinet in Mr Ramanauskas’s room. Novotna and Mr Ramanauskas had been spotted on CCTV cameras in a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Peebles hours before the attack.

They bought a bottle of rum and eight cans of Stella Artois before heading back to the remote farm.

Novotna said Mr Ramanauskas borrowed a DVD from her before asking her to come and watch the film in his room.

They discussed tattoos before Novotna claimed he started touching her “lovingly”.

She claimed to have left the room and gone to the kitchen where he later followed and began “dancing” with her.

Novotna said they then returned to his room where he took her top and bra off. She said she again ran out of the room – arming herself with a knife before going back into his room topless.

Novotna said he pulled her on top of him and tried to make her perform a sex act before she stabbed him.

She then walked six miles into Peebles where she was met by police.

Novotna had told the court that due to her fear of Mr Ramanauskas, she had barricaded her door and slept with a knife under her pillow in the nights before the attack.

A jury of nine men and six women convicted her of culpable homicide by a majority verdict.

Jim Keegan QC, defending, said he would reserve his plea in mitigation until a later sentencing date.

Lady Clark of Calton deferred sentence on Novotna until June 19 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

She said: “I would express the sympathy of the court to the relatives of the victim – this has no doubt been a very difficult time for you.”

Novotna showed no emotion as the verdict was read and stared at the relatives of her victim as she was led to the cells.

Members of Mr Ramanauskas’s family had sat through every day of evidence with the aid of a Lithuanian interpreter and made no comment as they left court.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Robertson, who led the investigation, said: “The full circumstances of this incident in which Arunus Ramanauskas suffered ultimately fatal injuries may never be known.

“However, Lothian and Borders Police conducted a robust investigation to prove that Eliska Novotna was involved in his death and today’s verdict reflects that.

“My deepest sympathies remain with Mr Ramanauskas’s family at this time and I hope they can now begin to move on with their lives.”