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Home Sittingbourne News Article
A Latvian man on trial for murder in Teynham arranged for a friend to ring one of the prosecution witnesses to try to get him to change his evidence, a jury has been told.
Jurijs Popovs made the arrangement in a phone call from prison where he was on remand accused of stabbing Dimitris Titovs to death on January 1, 2013, Maidstone Crown Court heard.
The 48-year-old, of London Road, Teynham, denies conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between July 6 and 9 last year by making telephone calls in an attempt to change the evidence of Edgar Buliga.
His two co-defendants - Vitalijis Radionous, 32, from Greenhithe, and Vasilijs Boicuks, 28, from Dagenham - also deny the same charge.
Tayo Adebayo, prosecuting, said all three men are from Latvia and all three are good friends.
At the time of the alleged offence, Mr Buliga was in the middle of giving evidence in Popovs' murder trial.
"By the weekend that we are concerned with he was part way through his evidence and the court rose on the Friday for Mr Buliga to carry on giving his evidence on the Monday," Mr Adebayo told the jury.
"The caller asked him to change his evidence and now say that Jurijs did not have the knife in his hand..." - Tayo Adebayo, prosecuting
"He had given crucial evidence against Popovs, namely that Popovs was holding the knife which was the murder weapon."
Mr Adebayo said at the time of the court case, Mr Buliga was staying with his girlfriend at a friend's flat in Maidstone.
"Shortly before 10pm on July 7, Mr Buliga's girlfriend received a call on her mobile from a man she did not know who asked to speak to Mr Buliga," he added.
"She passed the phone over and Mr Buliga left the room. The caller said his name was Vasilijs and the prosecution says that is a reference to Boicuks.
"He said he was Jurijs' friend and we say that is a reference to Popovs.
"The caller asked him to change his evidence and now say that Jurijs did not have the knife in his hand."
Mr Adebayo said Mr Buliga told the caller he had a good view of the incident and did not want to change his evidence. The caller told him he needed to understand people were not going to forget him.
Mr Adebayo said: "That was a veiled threat. The call made Mr Buliga worried and made him think about what would happen to him if he did not change his evidence."
He added Mr Buliga's girlfriend spoke to Radionous a few days later and he said he had given her number to Boicuks.
When Mr Buliga returned to court to continue his evidence, he told his Russian interpreter about the call and she told a policeman. His mobile phone was examined and the call was found to have been made from a phone belonging to Boicuks' brother, the court heard.
Later that day, Boicuks was arrested and soon afterwards Radionous and Popovs were arrested.
Mr Adebayo said Popovs was in prison while on trial. Prisoners were allowed to make outgoing calls that were recorded apart from those to legal teams and the Samaritans.
The prosecution had records of Popovs' calls and Mr Adebayo said the call to Mr Buliga was on his instructions.
The trial continues.
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