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Man handed life sentence for murder after restaurant row in Leytonstone

Kurpis was sentenced to life in prison (credit: Met Police)

A 39-year-old man has been handed a life sentence for stabbing a man to death over a restaurant row in Tower Hamlets.

Paulius Karalius was knifed by Aturas Kurpis in Leytonstone on Friday, 5 November last year.

Aturas Kurpis, of St Anne’s Row, was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 21 years, at the Old Bailey on Friday, 9 December.

He was found guilty of murder and possession of an offensive weapon at the same court on Friday, 2 December.

Kurpis was angered after Karalius and a couple of his friends asked the perpetrator to leave a restaurant when the latter became drunk and snatched a microphone from a singer.

A short while later, a person at the restaurant received a call from Kurpis which was held up on ‘speaker phone’.

During the call, witnesses reported hearing Kurpis threatening to stab Paulius – who later left the restaurant and went to his girlfriend’s home.

As he left her building with three other people, Kurpis confronted him outside.

The 39-year-old had fetched a kitchen knife from his home and followed Karalius to his girlfriends apartment, where he stabbed him in the heart.

The victim received a single stab wound to the chest. He was rushed to hospital where he underwent heart surgery, however he died six days later.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Kurpis is a man with a history of violence who has previously carried out numerous assaults and has served time in prison for a knife offence. In contrast, Paulius Karalius was a man of good character who was just spending a Friday night out with his girlfriend.

“Kurpis was drunk, but his intent that night was clear. He threatened to stab Paulius in a phone call, went to his flat, armed himself with a knife and then went downstairs to do bloody murder.

“Kurpis has now been jailed and I am sure that London will be a better place with him behind bars for a long time, but this will only be a small consolation to the family and friends of Paulius.

“This is another young life lost to a senseless scourge of knife crime and the loss will never leave those affected.”

Kurpis had numerous convictions including threatening behaviour with a blade (kitchen knife) for which he was imprisoned for 18 months, common assault, battery, possession of a knife, assault on police and being drunk and disorderly.

He also has convictions for criminal damage and theft in Lithuania, from where he originated, and a conviction for assault in Spain.

The knife used to kill was a ‘Kitchen Devil’s’ carving type knife, 35cm in total length with a sharp point. Similar style knives were found in his kitchen.

After being interviewed, Kurpis was released on bail to stay at a hotel in Ilford because his own address was still being forensically examined.

When the murder investigation team went to the hotel to re-arrest him on Friday, 9 November 2021, they found he had left 24 hours before.

He was eventually tracked down and arrested for murder at an address in Dartford and was later charged.

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