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King's Lynn woman Birute Klicneliene handed life jail sentence for murder of Dace Kalkerte at Highgate flat

A woman who killed an "incredible" mother in a sustained and brutal attack at a Lynn flat has been handed a life sentence.

Birute Klicneliene, 51, of Sir Lewis Street in Lynn, was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison as her punishment was passed down at Norwich Crown Court today – almost a year to the day after the murder of Dace Kalkerte.

It came after a jury unanimously convicted her of murdering Mrs Kalkerte, 50, following a trial last year.

Birute Klicneliene has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years. Picture: Norfolk Police
Birute Klicneliene has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years. Picture: Norfolk Police

Police were called to the first floor flat in Highgate, shortly after 12.30am on Saturday, April 16 after the ambulance service reported a woman – later identified as Dace Kalkerte - had been stabbed and was not breathing.

Dace was taken to Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital with multiple stab wounds but she never regained conscious and died at 2.28am.

A Home Office post-mortem later established she had sustained 16 stab and puncture wounds and nine incised wounds, including defensive injuries to her right hand, and had died from a single stab wound to her stomach.

Dace Kalkerte. Picture: Norfolk Police
Dace Kalkerte. Picture: Norfolk Police

During the trial in November, the court heard how Klicneliene and the victim returned to Mrs Kalkerte's first floor flat in Highgate on the evening of Friday, April 15 after drinking at an allotment in the town with their partners. Their partners remained at the allotment after the women left.

When initially interviewed by police, Klicneliene denied murdering Mrs Kalkerte and said she had fallen asleep when the women returned to the flat. She claimed she initially thought Mrs Kalkerte – who was lying on the floor when she woke up - was drunk and it was only when she picked her up that she realised that she was losing blood.

Klicneliene told detectives she may have touched the blood-stained knife when she moved her and blamed the murder on an unidentified man.

The trial heard that the police completed extensive CCTV enquiries and obtained many witness statements, yet there was no evidence to suggest an unidentified person was in the flat at the time of the murder who was responsible for Dace’s death.

The scene after the murder at Highgate in King's Lynn
The scene after the murder at Highgate in King's Lynn

Forensic analysis of the murder scene showed traces of diluted blood in the bathroom of the flat. There was no evidence of blood from the top of the stairway to the communal front door, which suggested nobody had left the scene of the murder. And, there was no sign of forced entry to Mrs Kalkerte's flat.

A knife containing traces of Mrs Kalkerte's blood on the blade and Klicneliene’s DNA on the handle was also recovered from the scene.

When officers first arrived at the flat after the 999 call was made, Klicneliene’s clothing was stained with blood, but her hands were clean.

Klicneliene was arrested on suspicion of murder in the early hours of Saturday, April 16 and charged with Mrs Kalkerte's murder on Monday, April 18.

Today, Judge Alice Robinson heard from prosecutor Andrew Jackson of the impact losing Mrs Kalkerte has had on her family.

Mr Jackson read from a statement given by Mrs Kalkerte's partner, who said he is now the carer for their daughter and has had to give up work as a result.

The scene after the murder at Highgate in King's Lynn
The scene after the murder at Highgate in King's Lynn

Their daughter is "thriving at school", but the court was told it is unknown at this point what long-term effect the trauma will have on her life.

The court was told the daughter had been present at the flat at the time of the murder and seen her mother covered in blood.

"His hope is that she will recover and in due course be able to lead a full life, and he says his whole world has changed forever," Mr Jackson added.

"The statement makes clear that Dace was an incredible mother.

"They have lost her in the most horrific and cruel way."

Mr Jackson went on to say the aggravating factors of the case were that Klicneliene was drunk at the time of the murder, the use of a knife to inflict 25 stab and incise wounds and that the murder was committed in the presence of the victim's young daughter.

He told the court that it was the daughter who had first tried to contact emergency services, with the defendant "appearing to do nothing at all", until some time later.

"There was a lack of premeditation, it seems to be a spur of the moment but it was still an excessive and sustained attack," Mr Jackson added.

Defence solicitor Nicholas Maggs said it was "quite right" that there was an absence of premeditation, as CCTV evidence suggested in the time prior to the attack, the pair were "getting on well".

"This does tend to suggest that this was a few minutes in the life of this defendant which were completely inconsistent with what everyone who knows her have seen before and on that day," Mr Maggs added.

"While she didn’t seek help as soon as she could have done, there was an attempt to get help for Mrs Kalkerte.

"It’s not simply a defendant who has no previous convictions, but a positive, good character."

He said it was a mitigating factor that she was described by those who know her as a “good, kind person” who was “warm and loving” and had “lots of friends”.

Mr Maggs added that, although a psychological report found no evidence of mental health issues that would lower her culpability, it did find that she had some "ongoing trauma" relating to a series of deaths in her family dating back to the 1990s.

He told the court that her father had died of radiation, having been involved with the Chernobyl disaster.

Passing sentence, Judge Robinson said that Mrs Kalkerte's partner was "grieving the destruction of his perfect family".

"There is only one sentence I can pass and that is a life sentence with a minimum term," she added.

Judge Robinson said the main aggravating factors were the use of a knife, albeit one that came to hand rather than being brought to the scene; killing a woman who had invited her into her home; the presence of a young child who witnessed part of the incident; the lengthy period when she failed to effectively get help; and the excessive alcohol consumption.

Mitigating factors, she added, were the lack of premeditation, the fact that she had not met the victim before that afternoon; and that there was no evidence of any intention to attack her before getting to the flat.

However, Judge Robinson said it was not the case that there was no intention to kill as Mrs Kalkerte suffered 25 injuries, requiring some force.

There was no evidence Klicneliene had a history of violence, but also none of any provocation or that she was acting in self-defence.

Judge Robinson sentenced Klicneliene to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 18 years, less the 360 days she has already been on remand.

The judge told the defendant that she will serve that time in custody, after which time she will be eligible for parole.

She will remain on licence for the rest of her life.

Following today’s sentencing, senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Burgess said: “Klicneliene used a knife to murder Dace – a woman she had met only a few hours’ earlier and who had invited her into her home – in a sustained and brutal attack.

"She has always denied murdering Dace and we may never know why she inflicted such deliberate and directed violence, but it has no place in our society.

“Mercifully, incidents like this are rare in Norfolk and today, my thoughts remain with Dace’s family who continue to grieve their loss; they have shown incredible bravery throughout this ordeal and I thank them for their support at this very difficult time.

"We will continue to support them for as long as they need us.”

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