Two jailed over brutal murder in a Harrogate flat


Two men have been jailed after the shocking and brutal death of a man in a North Yorkshire town.

Vitalijus Koreiva, 37, was found guilty of murdering Gracijus Balciauskas, 41, in a Harrogate flat last December.

Jaroslaw Rutowicz, 39, was found guilty of his manslaughter.

At Leeds Crown Court today (Thursday, September 22) Koreiva was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Rutowicz was sentenced to 12-years’ imprisonment.

The shocking murder came to light on Monday, December 20, 2021, when North Yorkshire Police received a 999 call from supermarket staff, who had been approached by a man who told them that “someone is dead”.

Murder victim Gracijus Balciauskas Picture: North Yorkshire Police

Officers attended immediately and the man, Rutowicz, took them to a property on Mayfield Grove.

Inside, the officers found the body of a man wrapped in a large rug in a bedroom.

A post-mortem later showed he had suffered severe injuries to his head and torso.

Also present in the room was Koreiva, who was asleep on the sofa.

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He and Rutowicz were both arrested.

As the investigation continued, police analysed Rutowicz’s phone and found disturbing and graphic videos showing assaults on the victim on the day of his death.

In one clip, filmed at 5.52am, the victim is kicked in the head and in the ribs, and cries out in pain.

In another clip, filmed at 7.02am, Rutowicz, who is holding the phone, tries to roll the victim over and give him a cigarette.

The Northern Echo: Vitalijus Koreiva Picture: North Yorkshire Police

Vitalijus Koreiva Picture: North Yorkshire Police

A clip filmed at 7.21am shows the victim lying on the floor with his eyes closed.

In interview, Koreiva told police he had gone to sleep and when he woke up he found Gracijus Balciauskas dead on the floor, and got a rug to put over him.

Separately, Rutowicz told officers that Koreiva had assaulted him before attacking the victim.

But both Koreiva and Rutowicz were charged in connection with his death.

Jonathan Sygrove, from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “The level of violence used against Gracijus Balciauskas was nothing short of brutal.

“The victim was subjected to a horrific assault, which led to his death.

“And shockingly, Mr Balciauskas was filmed with a mobile phone while he lay dying.

The Northern Echo: Jaroslaw Rutowicz Picture: North Yorkshire Police

Jaroslaw Rutowicz Picture: North Yorkshire Police

“When they were interviewed, Koreiva and Rutowicz blamed each other, but ultimately the evidence showed their involvement.

“It is right that they have now been brought to justice, and must face the consequences of their actions.”

In a statement, Gracijus’ family said: “As a family we have been deeply affected by Gracijus’ death.

“We will always remember him as a friendly and jovial person. Even as the months pass, the pain of his loss still remains.

“We want to deeply thank the officers and investigators at North Yorkshire Police with the investigation and doing everything they could to bring justice for him and for all of us too.

“We also give thanks to Victim Support for supporting us through something that no family should ever go through.

“We also thank everyone at the Harrogate Homeless Unit for supporting Gracijus any way they could when he was still alive.”

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