A MURDER suspect claimed he had no idea the body of his friend was lying dead inside a car, which he was told to dump and burn.
Arben Lleshi admitted torching the Mercedes belonging to Agim Hoxha but that he did not realise his body was in the back of the vehicle when he did it.
Taking the stand yesterday Arben Lleshi said he was offered £3,000 by co-defendant Afrim Lleshi to burn the car in which the body of Mr Hoxha was found.
Arben told jurors at Winchester Crown Court that he understood Afrim was planning a robbery or burglary involving the car and needed it to be disposed of as a result of that.
He said: “I knew he (Afrim) had done something but I never knew that... the murder.”
He said he had been waiting at Afrim’s flat in Shirley Road, Shirley, Southampton, on the night of April 9 last year while Afrim and another man went out before Afrim retuned on his own.
Arben, 25, said: “The first thing he [Afrim] said was to go and burn the car outside and I will give you £3,000.”
He said he didn’t recognised the car as belonging to Mr Hoxha, although he had been in it once, and that he did not see the body in the back of the car as clothes were piled on the back seat.
He said he drove to Chilworth Drove, Chilworth, where he dumped the car, poured petrol inside and set fire to it with a match, the ensuing flames causing him burns to his face and forearms.
He admitted buying a crowbar, some petrol, cable ties and gloves in the days before the alleged murder, but said he had done so on behalf of his co-defendant.
Arben said he had known fellow Albanian Mr Hoxha since 2006 through playing football in Southampton.
He said he regularly bought cocaine from Mr Hoxha to sell. They socialised regularly together, he said.
Asked how the relationship was between them Arben 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 the early hours of April 10.
Arben Lleshi, 25, of Onslow Road, Southampton, and Afrim Lleshi, 36, of Shirley Road, Shirley, deny murder. Arben also denies a further charge of peverting the course of justice.
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