LITTLEHAMPTON’S neighbourhood policing chief has expressed relief and gratitude at the community’s reaction in the wake of the alleged murder of a Lithuanian man.
Police feared there could be a negative reaction against people from eastern Europe living and working in the town following the stabbing to death of Bronius Juras, 38, of Bayford Road, Littlehampton, at a party in Beach Road on the night of Christmas Day.
But the possible tensions never developed in the days following the tragic incident, said Insp Nick Bowman, who heads up the neighbourhood policing team in Arun “If there had been an undercurrent of general fear of knife crime, particularly linked to the eastern European community, that could have had the potential to come out as a result of this incident, but it has not come out and there have been no further tensions.”
Mr Juras’ brother, Vaides Juras (33), of Beach Road, has been charged with murder (see below).
Insp Bowman admitted the case had presented the police with significant challenges in the days following Mr Juras’ death, from a single stab wound to the heart.
“It’s an incident that is certainly very rare and has a huge impact on any local community. We had extra patrols in the immediate vicinity to give that reassurance to the community.
“While the court case has yet to happen, we believe that this took place among people who knew each other and was not a random attack, but an isolated, terrible sequence of events that happened at a party. It could happen at any party if anything went wrong.”
Asked about concerns about people possessing knives, Insp Bowman added: “As far as I am aware, people from eastern Europe are no more likely to carry knives than anyone else in our community.”
A police community support officer originally from Poland and now based at Bognor had proved invaluable in establishing links between detectives working on the case and the eastern Europeans involved, said Insp Bowman. Through him they were able to provide the police with vital information. Translators were also brought in to help with interviews.
“The family involved in this case could be described as being settled in the community. They do speak English, they have jobs. It is tragic that this family has been affected in this way,” said Insp Bowman.