A man has been jailed for life for murdering a homeless friend as he slept in Newham. Lithuanian national Saulius Urbanavicius had been invited by fellow rough sleeper Vaidas Sakalauskas to join him in what he thought was a safe spot under Canning Town flyover.

But as the victim slept Urbanavicius launched a violent and unprovoked attack, smashing the 22-year-old over the head before dumping his unconscious body in Bow Creek.

He then stole his victim’s property and sold it. The body of Mr Sakalauskas was spotted by a member of the public on Wednesday, November 25, 2015, at 7.20am on the banks of the River Lea in Canning Town.

Police found

Canning Town murder: The body of Vaidas Sakalauskas was found on the banks of the River Lea
him dead inside his sleeping bag and a post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as a combination of blunt trauma force to the head and drowning.

Read more: Lithuanian charged with murder after body is found in Canning Town

Urbanavicius was arrested in Beckton a few days later and was subsequently charged with the offence.

The 24-year-old was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday, May 20 to a minimum of 18 years in prison after being found guilty in a trial at the same court.

The court heard that Urbanavicius knew the victim and both had been sleeping in an underpass on the A13 over a period of several weeks. But police still do not know why he murdered his friend.

Detective Inspector Euan McKeeve, the investigating officer from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “We are pleased with the jury’s decision and the sentencing of Urbanavic.

“Vaidas Sakalauskas found himself sleeping rough under the Canning Town flyover. Despite his predicament, he invited his friend Urbanavicius to join him in an area where he felt safe as a rough sleeper.

“Unfortunately, while he was asleep and defenceless in his sleeping bag, Urbanavicius launched a violent and unprovoked attack on Vaidas before dumping his unconscious body in the Bow Creek river. Urbanavicius took Vaidas’s property and sold it.

“I hope the Sakalauskas family can take some satisfaction from the sentencing and they should also know that everyone we spoke to in the wider homeless and Lithuanian community during the investigation talked highly of their loved one.”

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