Man accused of murdering wife has charge dropped

A family have paid tribute to Eglė Vengalienė, whose body was discovered at Brandon Country Park on Friday April 9.

Eglė Vengalienė, whose body was discovered at Brandon Country Park - Credit: Norfolk Police

Mystery continues to surround the death of a Suffolk mother of five whose body was found in a lake at Brandon Country Park after the prosecution dropped a murder charge against her husband.

Before Ipswich Crown Court today (January 6) was 46-year-old Andrius Vengalis, of Bury Road, Brandon, who had denied murdering Eglė Vengalienė on April 9 last year.

Edmund Burge QC, prosecuting, told the court that the decision to offer no evidence had been taken following a thorough review of the case.

“All reasonable lines of inquiry have been made by the police and the conclusion was that there is no realistic prospect of conviction,” said Mr Burge.

Recording a verdict of not guilty, Judge Martyn Levett said pathologists who carried out post mortem examinations on Miss Vengeliene couldn't determine whether she was unlawfully killed, whether she had taken her own life or whether her death was accidental.

He said there had been no eye witnesses to what happened and she was already dead when she was removed from the lake.

Brandon Country Park remains closed to the public while police investigations continue into the deat

Police prevent access to Brandon Country Park during their investigation - Credit: Emily Thomson

The court heard that  Miss Vengaliene was seen by a Royal Mail parcel delivery driver walking into the woods at Brandon Country Park at 3.30am on April 9 last year.

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“She walked in and then out again without attracting any attention. It was dark and she didn’t have a torch to light her way: she didn't ask for help, she was wearing a striped T shirt but there was nothing about her demeanour which would have caused concern except for the time of day,” said Judge Levett.

“Prudently the lorry driver turned back to check on her welfare, but she couldn't be found. There was no sound, no light, and no noise of any scream or rustling when the lorry driver searched for her."

Two hours later at 5.15am care workers at the Brandon Country Park, which is close to the lake, saw Miss Vengaliene tap on the window.

“She wasn’t injured, she was smiling, she waved, but she looked cold and damp. She mouthed the words “help me”, but due to Covid restrictions she was not allowed refuge in the home,” said Judge Levett.

When the care workers spoke to her at 5.45am she declined help but staff decided to call the police who searched the area and couldn’t find her.

At 7am a member of the public was walking around the lake and heard screams, possibly from a man. 

“He saw in the distance a male pumping up and down in the water. His account was made more clear later and indicated that from what he could see was a man performing CPR on a lady in the water. “ said Judge Levett.

“He later said that he thought that the defendant was pulling the woman out of the water and doing CPR compressions. Death was certified at 7.42am.

Judge Levett said a first post mortem examination was unable to identify the cause of death but the pathologist later said Miss Vengaliene had drowned.

Brandon Country Park remains closed to the public while police investigations continue into the deat

Brandon Country Park - Credit: Emily Thomson

“This early opinion formed the basis of the prosecution's case which was therefore presented as Mr Vengalis as the defendant was seen trying to submerge and drown his wife. 

“The eyewitness account of the member of the public neutralized that allegation to suggest an alternative proposition that the defendant was pulling his wife out of the lake and performing CPR on her chest when thigh deep in water.

“There were alternative scenarios: either, Mr Vengalis was acting unlawfully by throttling and submerging his wife causing her death by drowning or Mr Vengalis was acting as the Good Samaritan, rescuing and attempting to save his wife’s life,” said the judge.

Judge Levett said criminal cases were built on evidence and if  there was insufficient evidence to prove a case the prosecution would fail.

He said post mortem evidence had been considered by two pathologists and neither report had provided a real answer to the allegation about any unlawful act done by the defendant and there was unused material in the case which may suggest some undiagnosed mental health issues.

Judge Levett said Mr Vengalis could now be released from custody.

A spokesman for Suffolk police confirmed that the inquiry will remain open pending any new information coming to light, but a file will now be passed to the coroner for inquest proceedings to take place. 

Anyone with information about Miss Vengaliene’s death is asked to contact the Major Investigation Team by calling 101 and quoting reference: 17570/21.