Three men have been cleared of trying to persuade a vital witness in a murder trial to change his evidence after the case against them was abandoned.
Latvians Jurijs Popovs, Vitalijis Radionous and Vasilijs Boicuks had been on trial since February 28 before it was halted today.
Popovs, 48, was jailed for life with a 17-year tariff in September last year after he was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend’s son.
Jurijs Popovs, jailed for murder
Popovs, of London Road, Teynham, near Sittingbourne, Radionous, 32, of Knockhall Road, Greenhithe, and Boicuks, 28, of Moore Crescent, Dagenham, Essex, denied perverting the course of justice.
The prosecution alleged at Maidstone Crown Court that Popovs arranged for friend Boicuks to telephone prosecution witness Edgar Buliga to persuade him to change his evidence.
Tayo Adebayo, prosecuting, said Popovs made the arrangement in a call from prison in July after Mr Buliga testified that he saw him holding the knife that killed Dimitris Titovs on January 1 last year.
Mr Adebayo said the caller asked Mr Buliga to change his evidence and threatened him by warning he needed to understand people were not going to forget him.
Dimitris Titovs suffered a fatal stab wound in London Road, Teynham. Picture: @Kent_999s
But when Mr Buliga returned to court to continue his evidence he told his Russian interpreter about the call and she informed a police officer.
The latest trial had reached defence evidence when Mark McDonald, for Popovs, successfully submitted there was no case to answer.
Mr Adebayo reviewed the case with Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and then offered no further evidence against Popovs.
He added that the Crown would not, therefore, be able to continue with the case against Radionous and Boicuks.
Judge Philip St John-Stevens at Maidstone Crown Court
Judge Philip St John-Stevens explained the development to jurors and directed them to return not guilty verdicts.
“It is not an easy decision to make and it is not for the court to interfere,” he said. “I understand why the Crown has taken the course it has.”
Popovs knifed Mr Titovs, 21, in the chest at a flat in Teynham he shared with the victim’s mother Svetlana Kandate.
“It is not an easy decision to make and it is not for the court to interfere,” he said. “I understand why the Crown has taken the course it has” - Judge Philip St John-Stevens
He denied killing Mr Titovs and claimed it was Miss Kandate who struck the fatal blow with a large kitchen knife.
Passing sentence, Judge Philip Statman said Popovs he had a controlling personality and “a capacity to engender fear” in others
Popovs’ lawyers have indicated they will now challenge the murder conviction in the Appeal Court in London.