Man sentenced to life for murder of Bury St Edmunds jeweller

Ireneusz Melaniuk has received a life sentence for the murder of Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis
Ireneusz Melaniuk has received a life sentence for the murder of Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis
Have your say

The killer of Bury St Edmunds jeweller Peter Avis may serve his life sentence in his native Poland, a court has been told.

Ireneusz Melaniuk, 28, was told by Judge John Devaux on Friday that he will spend at least 26 years behind bars for the murder which took place during a burglary.

Melaniuk, of no fixed address, had been extradited to the UK on condition that he was returned to Poland by the end of this year to complete serving a jail term there for robbery.

Prosecutor Peter Gair told Ipswich Crown Court that where Melaniuk would serve his sentence for murder would be the subject of negotiations between the British and Polish justice authorities.

Melaniuk had been on the run after failing to return from day release to a prison near Warsaw when he killed Mr Avis.

Jailing him, Judge Devaux told him: “When you murdered Peter Avis you should have been in Poland, not at large in this country.”

Judge Devaux said: “You murdered a particularly vulnerable man, in his home and using a knife which you had brought to the scene.

“Your victim was powerless and unable to defend himself yet you repeatedly wounded him.”

The court heard how Melaniuk and a group of associates had been involved in identifying the shop of Collis and Son in Abbeygate Street as a prime target for burglary and then carrying out the break-in at about midnight on January 13.

Mr Avis, 66, who lived and worked alone and who walked with a stick after suffering a brain aneurysm more than 20 years ago, was described by prosecutor Peter Gair as “frail and vulnerable.”

Mr Gair said a screwdriver was used to force open a rear window before the shop and the flat above it occupied by Mr Avis were ransacked with watches, jewellery and silverware being stolen.

The body of Mr Avis was found on his bed by police who had been called when the shop failed to open the next morning.

Mr Avis had been struck at least four blows to the face with a glass ashtray which a Home Office pathologist believed would have stunned him before he was stabbed 13 times in the chest, six wounds piercing his heart.

After his arrest and return to the UK, Melaniuk, speaking through an interpreter, admitted carrying out the burglary but said he had never intended to harm anyone.

The court heard that at the time of the killing Melaniuk was serving a three and a half year sentence for robbery in Poland and had previous convictions for burglary and theft.

Defending, Adam Butler said Melaniuk had a “troubled past” and had been taken into care at the age of 13 because both his parents were alcoholics and turned to crime before getting a series of jobs and then finding himself unemployed and destitute.

Melaniuk who also pleaded guilty to burglary was jailed for four years and eight months to run concurrently with the murder sentence.