AN alleged murderer went on a shopping trip to buy a wrecking bar and a can of petrol just hours before the killing of a well-off drug dealer, a court heard.
Raffaela Garofalo said he took Arben Lleshi, who he knew as “Ben”, to two different stores believing he wanted to “buy tools for his new job” on the afternoon of Easter Monday last year.
Jurors were told he had originally met up with Arben that afternoon to buy cocaine and had handed over £40 for the drugs at his dealer’s new flat at 285 Shirley Road before they went out in his car.
It was at that property later that evening that 29-year-old Agim Hoxha was seriously assaulted and most probably killed, before his body was driven to Chilworth Drove in his silver Mercedes which was then torched, the prosecution claims.
Giving evidence, Mr Garofalo said he had no idea that Arben had bought lengths of cable ties and duct tape when he went into Maplins Electronics in Bevois Valley or a wrecking bar from B&Q, because he remained outside in his car.
At a petrol station in Paynes Road, Arben had topped up his fuel and also bought petrol in a green can which he said was “for a mate”, Mr Garofalo added.
CCTV was shown to the court of the moment the pair returned, parking in Malmesbury Road close to the property at 285b Shirley Road, which the prosecution says clearly shows Arben walking back to the flat with the petrol in a bag.
The court heard how it was earlier that day that Arben received the key to t h e property which he had asked to rent, paying a deposit of £300.
Landlord Alim Din, who owns the Furniture Planet store on the road as well as the properties above, said he had been contacted by the 25-year-old on Good Friday, asking if he could rent the flat.
Giving evidence, Mr Din said “Ben” described himself as “a friend” of Afrim Lleshi, now his co-accused, who lived in the next door flat at the time.
He said his nephew, Mohammed Shannawaz, had shown Arben around the flat and he wanted to take it immediately, but was given the keys three days later when he handed over 75 per cent of the required deposit. But during the next two days Arben told the pair he had changed his mind and no longer wanted the flat and asked for his deposit back, the court was told.
Mr Hoxha’s badly burned remains were discovered in the rear footwell of his car, which had been destroyed by the fire in the early hours of Tuesday, April 10.
Afrim Lleshi, of Shirley Road, and Arben Lleshi, 36, of Onslow Road, both deny murder.
Arben denies a second charge of perverting the course of justice by, with Afrim, being concerned in the removal of Mr Hoxha’s body, taking it to Chilworth and setting it alight and also cleaning traces of blood from the crime scene.
Afrim has pleaded guilty to the secondary charge.