In the Media

Birmingham double murder accused found dead in prison cell

PUBLISHED January 31, 2012

Rimvydas Liorancas, charged with the murders of Avtar and Carole Kolar, found dead at Woodhill prison

A man accused of murdering a police officer's parents in Birmingham has been found dead in his prison cell.

Rimvydas Liorancas, 37, a Lithuanian, was charged with the murders of 62-year-old Avtar Kolar and 58-year-old Carole Kolar at their home in Handsworth Wood last month, following a suspected burglary.

West Midlands police said the man was found dead in his cell at Woodhill prison, in Milton Keynes, on Saturday, but details of his death remained private until his family in Lithuania could be contacted.

The Prison Service indicated Liorancas had not been considered at risk of self-harm or suicide. A spokesman said: "HMP Woodhill prisoner Rimvydas Liorancas was found hanging in his cell at 8.52am on Saturday. Staff attempted resuscitation and paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead at 9.30am. As with all deaths in custody, the prisons and probation ombudsman will conduct an investigation."

The Kolars' bodies were found at their home on 11 January by their son, Jason, a serving officer with West Midlands police, who had become worried his parents were not answering telephone calls. Married for 40 years, the couple had four children and were devoted to their family.

At a press conference, their daughter Michelle Kirwan, 39, wept as she described her parents as "the sweetest, kindest people". The family said the killer had not taken "just two lives, but 16", referring to the couple's extended family. Kirwan said the family were close, spent holidays together and a light had been "switched out" in their lives and their hearts "broken forever" following the murders.

Liorancas, who was arrested by detectives at his home in Birmingham on 16 January, entered no plea in his first appearance at Birmingham crown court eight days later. An interpreter translated proceedings for the defendant and a trial date had been set for August.

Detectives do not believe the killings were linked to the son's occupation or to the theft of gold, as had previously been speculated. A lump hammer recovered from the scene of the murders was believed to have been used to kill them. Two other people arrested in the case were released without charge.

Police said the investigation into the murders would continue. "The family of Carole and Avtar were informed at the earliest possible stage of the news [of Liorancas's death] and we are continuing to support them," the force said.

The completed findings of their investigation into the deaths of the couple will be presented to the coroner at the inquest.

A spokesperson for the couple's family said: "We were made aware of the death of Liorancas by police on Saturday. We understand the investigation into our parents' death will continue and the findings will be presented to the coroner. We ask that we be left alone as we continue to grieve over the deaths of our Mum and Dad."

The Ministry of Justice and the Prison Service will open an investigation into what happened in the cell and whether Liorancas was properly supervised during his time on remand.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Jupp, of West Midlands police, speaking after Liorancas had been charged with the double murders, said postmortem examinations had revealed the couple died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.

He said: "The devastating impact of such tragic and senseless death has been far-reaching. The family have been overwhelmed by messages of support from friends, from the local community and much further afield. The investigation into Carole and Avtar's death has been complex and very fast-moving.

A number of items stolen from the property had been recovered, he added. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds