A MAN has been convicted of murdering his friend by stabbing him as the pair celebrated a birthday at a Skelmersdale home.
Janis Mikitovs was celebrating his 36th birthday on March 28 and had invited his friend Kristaps Muzikants to come to his house in Skelmersdale the evening before to celebrate with him.
But the celebrations turned to tragedy after Mikitovs stabbed his friend following a night of drinking.
Mr Muzikants, 30, died in the early hours of March 28 as a result of a stab wound to the abdomen.
A post-mortem examination showed he had suffered a single 23-centimetre knife wound which penetrated his liver and sliced through a major vein, causing catastrophic internal bleeding.
Mikitovs initially claimed to police called to the scene that his friend had gone outside and he had found him injured in the street. He later changed his story but claimed he had no knowledge of how Mr Muzikants got his injury.
Mikitovs, 36, of Acregate, Skelmersdale, had denied murder but was convicted on Wednesday, (September 23) following a trial at Preston Crown Court. He will be sentenced later.
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Willis, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “What happened in the early hours of March 28 was an absolute tragedy and my thoughts remain with Mr Muzikants loved ones. I would like to thank the family for the dignity they have shown throughout these proceedings and I hope the verdict will give them some chance of moving on with their lives.
“While Janis Mikitovs has never given an explanation for his actions in that house, the evidence clearly showed that he and he alone was responsible for the senseless killing of his friend and I am grateful to the jury for considering the facts so carefully in reaching their unanimous guilty verdict.
“This case sadly once again shows all too clearly the devastating consequences that can result from violence involving the use of a knife.”
In a tribute Mr Muzikants’ family said: “Kristaps was a really nice person, he was always happy.
“When we found out about Kristap's death our family was devastated. What has happened to him is unbelievable and is still very hard to accept.
“Our family is longing to see his face, his smile and hear his voice.
“My sister and myself both have children and they are missing their uncle and they say that he is an ‘angel who now lives in heaven’.
“We all miss him so much.”