A PATHOLOGIST told a court it was “almost certain” that a man whose body was found in his burnt-out car was dead before the blaze was started.

Dr Basil Purdue carried out the post-mortem on what was left of the body of murder victim Agim Hoxha, whose remains were discovered in the wreckage of a torched Mercedes in the early hours of April 10 last year.

Giving evidence at Winchester Crown Court, Dr Purdue told how he had been asked to attend the scene of the fire, in Chilworth Drove, Chilworth, near Southampton, to see the charred remains of the 29-yearold in situ in the rear of the silver coupe.

He described how it was clear there was the body of a man but the limbs had been burnt off and parts of the body had been so badly burned in the heat that they had become solid ash.

The court heard how extraordinary measures were taken with firefighters cutting the roof off the vehicle to try and give the best possible chance of preserving and removing what remained of Mr Hoxha.

The trunk of his body was later examined and no traces of soot or evidence he had inhaled hot gases were found, meaning it was most likely he died before the fire began.

But the court was told there was little else left to help establish what had caused his death.

Toxicology reports showed there were no illegal or medicinal drugs or alcohol in his system.

Arben Lleshi, 25, and Afrim Lleshi, 36, both deny carrying out the murder which prosecutors believe happened between 10.30pm on Easter Monday and 1am the following day.

Arben denies a charge of perverting the course of justice by moving Mr Hoxha’s body to Chilworth, setting it alight and cleaning the scene of the crime.

Afrim pleaded guilty to that charge before the trial began.