Published: 06:00, 02 August 2020
| Updated: 09:06, 02 August 2020
On an unremarkable Thursday night, the quiet hum of the evening shop at Morrison's was intermittently broken by the familiar sound of the checkout beeps.
But that was all to change at 8.35pm, as a man - eyes glazed and emotionless - walked into the Canterbury supermarket brandishing a gun.
Unkempt and smelling of alcohol, Tomas Uptas began waving the weapon, watching as terrified shoppers scattered in his wake.
Many ran for the doors, while others hid behind their trolleys and the store displays.
Some managed to find cover and call 999, alerting police to the drama unfolding before their eyes.
But firearms officers were already on their way to Wincheap, as minutes before Uptas had been terrorising people on the streets outside.
Among them was gym instructor David Bowles, who encountered Uptas in Victoria Road, about half-a-mile away.
"He put a gun to my head," the father-of-one recalled. "I felt it against my temple."
Uptas ordered Mr Bowles to take him to Morrison's, but he fought back.
"I knocked the gun away and grabbed his hand and forced him against the side of a house," he said. "I tried to get the gun out of his hand. I was really angry."
Uptas managed to break free and staggered off towards the supermarket, still with the gun.
He was seen walking though traffic in the middle of the road, pointing the weapon at passing cars and members of the public, including a 12-year-old girl.
Fearing Uptas would be knocked down and unaware he was armed, passing postman Jimmy Jordan jumped out of his car to check on him.
"I couldn't just leave him - he was about to get run over," he recalled.
"I ran up behind him and then he spun round - he must have heard my footsteps.
"He then reached inside his coat and pulled out a gun, pointing it directly in my face, in between my eyes. He didn't say a word.
"I just turned around and slowly walked back to my van full of fear. In hindsight I should have walked backwards but I was just so shocked."
Uptas would eventually reach Morrison's, where armed police would find him sitting on a pile of Fiesta toilet rolls with a bottle of wine in one hand and the weapon in the other.
Shouts of "Put the gun down!" rang around the store as efforts were made to talk the 32-year-old into surrendering.
But Uptas refused to negotiate, instead choosing to lift the gun and aim it at officers.
The sound of bullet fire erupted, but it was Uptas who had been beaten to the trigger by a trained police marksman.
He fell to the ground, wounded by a single shot to his outstretched arm, with officers rushing to restrain him.
Disaster had seemingly been averted, with only Uptas hurt - a win in any such situation - but events would take a tragic twist in the hours that followed.
'HE'S NOT HUMAN - HE'S AN ANIMAL'
Tomas Uptas had moved to the UK from Lithuania, and in 2009 found himself working on a fruit-picking farm in Kent.
It was there he would meet Loreta Raupiene, a 46-year-old fellow Lithuanian who was married with a daughter.
Loreta's husband had found work in the county in the spring of that year, so she had travelled to England to join him.
But their marriage would soon break down, with Loreta later starting a relationship with Uptas.
What followed was a number of angry flashpoints between her new partner and her husband of 26 years, who left the UK at the end of the year.
He offered to take Loreta back to Lithuania with him, but she declined.
It was a decision that would prove fatal, as she was left in the arms of the jealous and manipulative Uptas.
Their relationship became more volatile, and deteriorated further when the couple were left out of work and facing financial difficulties.
Uptas had a propensity for violence, and had previously attacked a man from behind with a metal bar outside a nightclub while living in Sweden.
Loreta would bear the brunt of his outbursts, especially when her possessive boyfriend had been drinking.
Five months into their relationship, and fearing for her safety, Loreta sought help from a friend to help find her work in London so she could escape to her home country.
In one desperate text message, she wrote: "Tomas is an animal, not a human being".
It would be the last she would send.
On November 26, 2009, Uptas strangled her with her own scarf in a jealous rage at their home in Victoria Road, Canterbury.
Covering her lifeless body with a quilt, he then armed himself with what turned out to be a realistic looking BB handgun before leaving the bedsit at the Ambassador Guest House.
Faced with the reality of what he had done, it is thought he had one intention - to be shot dead by police.
WEB OF LIES
Knocked to the ground by a bullet to his arm, Tomas Uptas started bleeding out on the floor of the kitchen aisle, mops and buckets to one side of him and ironing boards to the other.
As he stared up to see the guns of firearms officers trained on him, he knew his suicide-by-cop bid had failed.
He was arrested in front of relieved shoppers and rushed to hospital, where he was treated by doctors under armed guard.
At the same time, officers were sent to his home in Victoria Road, where they would make the tragic discovery of Loreta's body.
A pathologist estimated she had been dead for eight hours.
Uptas was later charged with her murder, but maintained his innocence, claiming he had not seen Loreta that day.
Her family was forced to endure the anguish of a trial at Maidstone Crown Court, where prosecution lawyer Anthony Hill told the jury: "Tomas Uptas killed the girlfriend he wanted no one else to have."
The web of lies concocted by Uptas soon started to unravel in the face of overwhelming forensic evidence.
His DNA was found on either end of the red scarf used to strangle Loreta, and fibres from the garment were discovered on his BB gun.
The court heard Uptas had told Loreta's daughter: "If she's not with me, she's not going to be with anyone else."
On August 2, 2010 - 10 years ago today - a jury took just 10 hours to decide he was guilty of the brutal murder.
Ian Jobling, defending, said it was likely Uptas snapped and killed Loreta in a moment of madness because he feared she would leave him.
He said: "The woman he professed to love was in danger of leaving him and, not being able to cope with that, he killed her.
"His behaviour afterwards appears to be prompted by his desire to be shot by armed police, at a time when he was under great stress and had been drinking."
The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, said he was satisfied Uptas killed Loreta in a fit of temper, telling him he would serve 18-and-a-half years behind bars before he'd be considered for parole.
"It is clear your relationship with her had deteriorated over the preceding period and she wanted to leave you to go back to Lithuania," he said.
"You were not prepared to allow that to happen and you killed her."
Loreta's daughter, Greta Raupyte, said her mother had "unconditionally loved her family, friends and work colleagues".
"She always was, is, and will be the most precious person on earth for me."
If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, freephone the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, the Mens' Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or Galop's National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 999 5428.
More by this authorJoe Walker
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