Prosecutors have today dropped a murder charge against the husband of a mother-of-five who was found drowned in a lake.
Andrius Vengalis, 46, was accused of killing Lithuanian-born Egle Vengaliene, 35, by holding her under the water at Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, in April last year.
A court heard a witness had initially told police how he had seen Mr Vengalis, who lived near to the 30-acre park with his wife, ‘pumping up and down’ on Mrs Vengaliene in the water.
The witness later clarified his account and said he believed he had seen Mr Vengalis attempting to resuscitate her after pulling her out of the lake.
A judge said prosecutors faced ‘alternative scenarios’ – that Mr Vengelis ‘throttled and submerged his wife’ or was ‘attempting to save her’.
But he said that a post-mortem, reviewed by two pathologists, could not determine whether Mrs Vengaliene was unlawfully killed, had taken her own life or whether her death was accidental.
He also said that there had been material to suggest Mrs Vengaliene may have had undiagnosed mental health issues.
Today, at Ipswich Crown Court, prosecutors offered no evidence in the case and a not guilty verdict was recorded by Judge Martyn Levett.
He said that Mr Vengalis, who lived with his wife in Brandon, could now be released from custody.
The court heard a Royal Mail parcel delivery driver saw Ms Vengaliene walking into the woods at Brandon Country Park at 3.30am on April 9 last year.
Judge Levett said: ‘She walked in and then out again without attracting any attention.
‘It was dark and she didn’t have a torch to light her way: she didn’t ask for help, she was wearing a striped T shirt but there was nothing about her demeanour which would have caused concern except for the time of day.
‘Prudently the lorry driver turned back to check on her welfare, but she couldn’t be found.
‘There was no sound, no light, and no noise of any scream or rustling when the lorry driver searched for her.’
Two hours later at 5.15am care workers at the Brandon Park nursing home overlooking the lake, saw Ms Vengaliene tap on the window.
Judge Levett added: ‘She wasn’t injured, she was smiling, she waved, but she looked cold and damp.
‘She mouthed the words “Help me”, but due to Covid restrictions she was not allowed refuge in the home.’
The court heard how care workers from the home saw her again at 5.45am and spoke to her, but she declined help.
Staff decided to call the police who searched the area and couldn’t find her.
A member of the public was walking around the lake at 7am the same day when he heard screams, possibly from a man.
Judge Levett said: ‘He saw in the distance a male pumping up and down in the water.
‘His account was made more clear later and indicated that from what he could see was a man performing CPR on a lady in the water.
‘He later said that he thought that the defendant was pulling the woman out of the water and doing CPR compressions. Her death was certified at 7.42am.’
Judge Levett said a first post-mortem examination was unable to identify the cause of death but a pathologist later said Ms Vengaliene had drowned.
He added: ‘This early opinion formed the basis of the prosecution’s case which was therefore presented as Mr Vangelis as the defendant, was seen trying to submerge and drown his wife.
‘The eyewitness account of the member of the public neutralised that allegation to suggest an alternative proposition that the defendant was pulling his wife out of the lake and performing CPR on her chest when thigh deep in water.
‘There were alternative scenarios: either, Mr Vangelis was acting unlawfully by throttling and submerging his wife causing her death by drowning or Mr Vangelis was acting as the Good Samaritan, rescuing and attempting to save his wife’s life.’
Judge Levett said criminal cases were built on evidence and prosecutions failed when there was insufficient evidence to prove a case.
He said post mortem evidence had been considered by two pathologists and neither report had provided a real answer to the allegation about any unlawful act done by the defendant.
Judge Levett added that there was unused material in the case which might suggest some undiagnosed mental health issues.
He said that Vengalis who lived with his wife in Brandon could now be released from custody.
Edmund Burge QC, prosecuting, told the court that the decision to offer no evidence had been taken following a thorough review of the case.
He said: ‘All reasonable lines of inquiry have been made by the police and the conclusion was that there is no realistic prospect of conviction.’
Vengalis was arrested five hours after his wife’s body was found and was charged with her murder three days later.
Ms Vengaliene who was originally from the city of Rokiskis in Lithuania, but had lived in the UK for around seven years, according to friends.
Her family said in a tribute ‘Egle Vengaliene, at the age of only 35-years-old, passed away on 9th April, 2021.
‘She was loving, caring and devoted to her family, radiating optimism, cheerfulness and positive energy and believing in her family’s bright future.
‘She leaves behind five of her children, who will have to grow up without their mother’s love and will always long and mourn their mother. Protect your children from heaven and rest in peace.’
A friend described her as a ‘a good mother’ and a ‘pretty woman’ as well as a ‘beloved daughter and sister’.
Source: Thanks msn.com