A husband cleared of murdering his wife who drowned in a lake claims he’s been prevented from contact with his children after they left the UK to live with their mother’s family in Lithuania following her death.
Suffolk Corner’s Court heard how Andrius Vengalis, 46, had not seen any of his children since the death of his wife Egle Vengaliene, 35, on April 9, 2021.
The inquest was told how they were initially put in foster care in the UK after their mother was found dead in a lake in Brandon Country Park, Suffolk.
Mr Vengalis was arrested within hours of her death and charged with her murder before his five children departed from the UK to live with his wife’s relatives in Lithuania.
He spent nine months in custody before a not guilty plea was recorded by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court after prosecutors offered no evidence against him in January last year.
Pictured: Andrius Vengalis and Egle Vengaliene. Suffolk Corner’s Court heard how Andrius Vengalis had not seen any of his children since the death of his wife Egle Vengaliene on April 9, 2021
Andrius Vengalis leaves Suffolk Coroner’s Court on May 15 after giving evidence
However, he told the inquest into his wife’s death that he had since been stopped from contacting any of his children, who are all under the age of 15.
Mr Vengalis said he had attempted in vain to get access to them through social services in the UK after he was released from prison and returned to live in Brandon.
He said: ‘They told me to talk to the Lithuanian embassy, but they said they had nothing to do with it.
‘Because the children had already been six months in Lithuania, they are covered by Lithuanian laws and I am not entitled to see them.
‘Why did the UK help the children to be removed from the country, but won’t help me to get them back? They don’t even want to communicate with me.’
The inquest earlier heard how three of the children had given statements to police, suggesting that he had been physically abusive to his wife of 19 years.
Mr Vengalis claimed that his children had been turned against him by his wife’s mother after the police told her that he had been arrested.
He repeatedly described claims that he had been abusive as ‘complete nonsense’, saying: ‘I never did this. I never hurt her.’
Dog walker Robert McDonald told the hearing how he was in the country park when he thought he saw a man pushing a woman down in the lake or throttling her at around 6.50am on April 9, 2021.
However, as he got nearer, he realised he was mistaken and that the man was trying to resuscitate the woman while her legs were in the water and her upper body was on the bank.
Mr McDonald said he helped Mr Vengalis drag his wife fully out of the water, and took over the resuscitation attempt. She was declared dead at the scene and a post-mortem revealed she had drowned.
Mr Vengalis claimed his wife had become obsessed with the supernatural and ‘other dimensions’ in the years before his death.
He feared for her mental health two or three days prior to her death after she told him that she had dreamed she had made ‘a contract with the devil’.
The food factory worker at first thought his wife had gone out jogging after he woke up early and found that she was missing from the house.
However, he claimed that he became worried when he discovered her sports shoes were still in the house, and he went out to look for her.
He found her face down in the water in the lake around 1km from their home and attempted to resuscitate her after being unable to drag her full out of the water by himself.
Egle Vengaliene, who was found drowned in a lake at Brandon Country Park on on April 9, 2021
Mr Vengalis admitted that he had seen a neighbour while on his way out to look for his wife, but had not asked him if he had seen her.
He also admitted not telling his five children where he was going and leaving them alone in the house, and not taking the mobile phone which he shared with his wife.
Michael Hill, the counsel to the inquest, asked him at the inquest: ‘Looking back, would you agree that looks like strange behaviour?’
Speaking through a translator, Mr Vengalis replied: ‘Maybe it’s strange behaviour, but I was simply looking for her.
‘I’m not sure I was supposed to call the police as soon as I woke up or seek neighbours’ help if I didn’t even know where she was.’
Asked about the possibility that she had taken her own life, he replied: ‘I am not a psychologist. I don’t know what a person does if they go mad. I don’t have any other explanation.’
But he added: ‘The children were all her life. I can’t imagine how even her children could not stop her.’
Mr Vengalis also acknowledged the second possibility that his wife could have suffered from hypothermia and ‘somehow entered the pond and drowned without meaning to take her own life’.
Mr Hill asked him: ‘The final possibility is that Egle fled from your house. You looked for her found and found her in Brandon Country Park, and killed her by drowning.’
He replied: ‘It’s complete nonsense, I would never kill another person, especially Egle. She was all my life.’
Mr Vengalis added: ‘How would it be possible for me to kill a person without any marks being found? If I had touched her with one finger, I would not be here. I would be locked up in prison.’
Home Office pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift who carried out a post-mortem for police and fellow pathologist Dr David Rouse who carried out an examination on behalf of lawyers acting for Mr Vengalis both concluded that she had drowned.
They also concluded that she had no haemorrhaging in her eyes which would have been a sign of her having been strangled.
Dr Swift added that she had some bruising on her body which could have dated back to at least 18 hours before her death or even longer.
Police at Brandon Country Park in Suffolk after Egle Vengaliene’s body was discovered
Dr Rouse said today that superficial cuts around her neck were consistent with being self-inflicted by someone cutting themselves in a ‘tentative’ way.
Dr Swift added: ‘The pathology cannot rule out a third party, but I agree it is possible these were self-inflicted.’
Both pathologists agreed that a possible ligature mark around her neck could also have been self-inflicted or left by a third party.
Bleeding around the muscles of her shoulder was also consistent with her being held under the water, but could also be explained by vigorous movement such as going through vegetation, the inquest heard.
The pathologists also agreed that they could not say whether it was more likely that she had drowned herself deliberately, by accident or whether she was intentionally drowned by another person.
The inquest earlier heard a Royal Mail delivery driver had spotted a woman, believed to be Ms Vengaliene, walking into woods at the country park just after 3am on the day she died.
Ms Vengaliene knocked on the window of Brandon Park care home next to the lake at 5.15am, appearing wet and shivering with no shoes on when she was seen by staff.
She asked for help, but they could not let her into the home due to Covid restrictions at the time. When they offered to call the police to help her, she replied: ‘No, no police. Will be big trouble’, and walked off.
The inquest heard last week how Ms Vengaliene’s blood was found smeared on a washing machine and microwave in a near neighbour’s conservatory after her death.
The near neighbour’s fence and gate had also been broken, and her property including slippers and a necklace found at the scene.
The hearing continues.