Alleged 'ringleader' of brutal shotgun killing in quiet Hartlepool street goes on trial

A man who allegedly helped to plan and carry out the brutal shotgun murder of a drug dealer by a rival gang in Hartlepool has gone on trial.

Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 2:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 4:10 pm

Albanian Eugert Merizaj, 31, is said to have been “instrumental” in the ambush of Hemawand Ali Hussein, who was blasted at point blank range after being lured to an empty house in Charterhouse Street, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Mr Hussein, 30, a British citizen originally from Kurdistan, was said to be a “major” cannabis dealer who is believed to have made enemies with an Albanian drugs gang before they allegedly lured him to the address in Hartlepool to kill him.

A number of men are alleged to have been involved in the killing which happened just after 6pm on September 14, 2019.

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The house in Charterhouse Street where Hemawand Ali Hussein was killed.

Three men were found guilty of manslaughter and jailed after a trial last year while other suspects remain at large.

Merizaj, who was arrested in September last year in Belgium, has now gone on trial after denying murder.

The prosecution claim he was a trusted leader of the group involved and was in “regular and frequent” contact with the alleged gunman who remains on the run.

In opening the case to the jury, Francis FitzGibbon QC said: “He (Merizaj) didn’t pull the trigger, but we say that what he did to set up the killing makes him guilty of murder just as if he had done.”

Hemawand Ali Hussein died instantly in the attack in Hartlepool.

He added: "It was a carefully planned hit on a man with whom the killers were in dispute who had to be got rid of.”

Merizaj is alleged to have attended a planning meeting with other criminals in Bolton a week before Mr Hussein was killed.

The next day he and another man are alleged to have bought an axe, gloves, gaffer tape, cable ties and a length of rope from a B&Q in Middlesbrough.

Merizaj, of Montague Street, Leicester, is also accused of paying a “middle man” £150 to obtain keys to the house in Charterhouse Street.

The prosecution say the house was chosen by the killers to lure Mr Hussein to because it was the kind often used for cannabis farms.

Merizaj, together with others, is said to have been in Hartlepool on Friday, September 13, when it is alleged they originally intended to kill Mr Hussein.

But the plan was said to have been abandoned when Mr Hussein failed to show.

On the day Mr Hussein was killed, Merizaj is alleged to have again joined other people and vehicles involved in the area.

He took items into the house, say the prosecution, including a bag which may have contained the shotgun, and waited outside the house when the killing took place, the trial heard.

Merizaj is said to have left in his Fiat 500 car when others fled the house and joined those involved for an alleged “debrief” in Bolton.

The jury were told that Noza Saffari, 40, formerly of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, Qazim Marku, 26, of Maxwell Road, West Drayton, London, and Dorian Pirija, 34, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton, were jailed for their roles in the killing last year.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

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