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Judge's anger at revelation Murston knife thug Peteris Vankovs had killed twice before in native Latvia

A judge has criticised the Latvian authorities for failing to disclose details of two killings committed in their country by a thug who knifed a woman in her thigh.

The lack of information meant the prosecution was unable to make a bad character application at the trial of Peteris Vankovs for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Had such an application succeeded, details of the convictions could have been put before jurors - who only found out about them after finding him guilty.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

Prosecutor Peter Walsh said it had only been possible to establish that Vankovs, 51, was jailed in Latvia for nine-and-a-half years in June 1997 and 15 years in October the same year.

"For a very long time the British authorities have been trying to ascertain details of those convictions," he said.

Recorder Cairns Nelson QC said: "It is deplorable the court should be in a position where there has been little cooperation from the Latvian authorities in this regard, as this man apparently has two convictions for homicide.

"I am not going to sentence without them. It is a startling state of affairs."

Maidstone Crown Court heard Vankovs stabbed Tatjana Ivanova in the thigh after threatening to kill her and her children by burning her house down.

He was said to have become "inflamed" when his girlfriend, Zanetta Tolkunova, moved into the home of Miss Ivanova in Wykeham Road, Murston, Sittingbourne.

Vankovs suddenly appeared in Miss Ivanova's kitchen on November 8 last year, shouting: "It doesn't matter who I will kill. I will burn your house down, kill you and your children."

Patrick Maguire was arrested charged with threatening to damage or destroy property and possessing a bladed article.
Patrick Maguire was arrested charged with threatening to damage or destroy property and possessing a bladed article.

He punched her three times in the face, before grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbing her once in her right thigh.

Vankovs, of no fixed address, was acquitted of making a threat to kill. He denied both charges, but admitted the lesser offence of unlawful wounding.

Helped by an interpreter, he claimed he stabbed Miss Ivanova by accident or recklessness. It was not accepted by the prosecution.

Recorder Nelson remanded Vankovs in custody and adjourned sentence until June 30 for reports to assess dangerousness.

He added he was considering passing an indeterminate sentence.

Mr Walsh said he hoped to have details of the convictions in Latvia by the sentencing date.

It was not clear, he said, if they were murder or manslaughter convictions.

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