Man jailed for killing rough sleeper in Canning Town

Saulius Urbanavicius, left, was jailed for life for murdering Vaidas Sakalauskas

Saulius Urbanavicius, left, was jailed for life for murdering Vaidas Sakalauskas - Credit: MPS

A man has been jailed for life for murdering a fellow rough sleeper and dumping his body in the River Lea.

Saulius Urbanavicius, 24, was told today he must serve a minimum of 18 years for killing Vaidas Sakalauskas.

During the trial, the Old Bailey heard how the 22-year-old’s body was found inside a sleeping bag on the banks of the Canning Town section of the river on November 25 last year.

A post-mortem examination gave cause of death as a combination of blunt trauma force to the head and drowning.

The court heard that Urbanavicius was also a rough sleeper, and the pair had been sleeping in an underpass on the A13 over a period of several weeks.

A motive for the Lithuanian national’s attack remains unclear.

Det Insp Euan McKeeve said: “We are pleased with the jury’s decision and sentencing of Salius Urbanavic.

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“Vaidas Sakalauskas found himself sleeping rough under the Canning Town flyover. Despite his predicament, he invited his friend Urbanavicius to join him in an area where he felt safe as a rough sleeper.

“Unfortunately, whilst he was asleep and defenceless in his sleeping bag, Urbanavicius launched a violent and unprovoked attack on Vaidas before dumping his unconscious body in the Bow Creek river. Urbanavicius took Vaidas’s property and sold it.

“I hope the Sakalauskas family can take some satisfaction from the sentencing and they should also know that everyone we spoke to in the wider homeless and Lithuanian community during the investigation talked highly of their loved one.”