A MURDER suspect has admitted torching a car inside which the body of a Southampton drug dealer, was found - but claimed he had no idea the body was inside when he did so.
Taking the stand in his own defence, Arben Lleshi said he was offered £3,000 by his co defendant Afrim Lleshi to burn the Mercedes in which the body of Agim Hoxha was found.
Arben told jurors at Winchester Crown Court that he understood that Afrim was planning a robbery or burglary and needed the car to be disposed of as a result of that.
He said:"I knew he (Afrim) had done something but I never knew that"
During his evidence he admitted buying items including a crowbar, some petrol, cable ties and gloves in the days before the alleged murder, but said he also done that on behalf of his co defendant who had asked him to.
Arben said he had known Mr Hoxha since coming to Southampton and who he had met playing football and through the Albanian community in the city.
He said he had sold drugs with Mr Hoxha and later on bought cocaine from him to sell on his own. They socialised regularly and went drinking and partying together, he said.
Asked how the relationship was between them Arben Lleshi said: "I see him every day, I never had any problems with him ever."
He described being shocked when he was told on the phone by a mutual friend Mr Hoxha had been murdered, by which time he had travelled back to Albania.
It was then, he said, he realised he had been involved in some way.
the body of 29-year-old Mr Hoxha was discovered by police and firefighters in Chilworth Drove, Chilworth, in the early hours of April 10.
Arben Lleshi, 25, of Onslow Road, Southampton, and Afrim Lleshi, 36, of Shirley Road, Shirley, both deny murder.
Afrim has admitted peverting the course of justice.
For all the latest stories on the case
- The Champagne Killer jailed for 32 years
- Jailed for 32 years for body-in-the-car murder
- Murder jury allowed to return majority verdict
- Justice has been done, say murder victim's family
- Drug dealers 'have a right to life like everyone else' says judge
- Murder trial jury still out
- Guilty - Arben Lleshi guilty of body-in-the-car murder
- Alleged murderer 'feared for son's safety'