Gintaras Butkus killed a grandfather during a fishing trip off the Cornish Coast

A Lithuanian boat thief was jailed for six years after admitting to killing 56-year-old Jesse Tracey during a fishing trip in Cornwall.

Gintaras Butkus pleaded guilty manslaughter but denied murdering his partner in crime after the pair were seen arguing in a rowing boat in Mounts Bay. Mr Tracey died after falling, or being pushed, overboard during the fight.

Mr Butkus did nothing to help Mr Tracey, the prosecution told the court. When the inshore lifeboat tried to save the victim, Mr Butkus reportedly hit their boat with his oars. Furthermore, when they threw a line out to help him, Mr Butkus allegedly threw it back at them.

David Prior, a volunteer at the Coastwatch service, spotted the two out at sea. The court was told: “(Butkus) was looking at Mr Tracey in the sea but doing nothing that Mr Prior could see to help him. He could see the defendant still in the boat and Mr Tracey still in the sea, holding on to the stern of the boat. After seven or eight minutes he could see that Mr Tracey had disappeared from view.”

According to, Mr Butkus was due to stand trial for murder at Truro Crown Court, but the manslaughter pleas was accepted after the prosecution decided they couldn’t prove Mr Tracey was pushed out of the boat.

The night before the pair had been out stealing a motorboat. They were seen on CCTV getting in to Mr Tracey’s boat – which is described as a dinghy or rowing boat in court – and leaving Penzance Harbour early on May 24.

Photo of Penzance Harbour by Mike Hancock

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