Gang members jailed for 53 years for 'significant role' in Hartlepool killing of 'brilliant father'
Three members of a criminal gang involved in the shotgun killing of a rival drug dealer in Hartlepool have been jailed for more than 50 years
Cannabis dealer Hemawand Ali Hussein, 30, was shot in the head at point-blank range with a shotgun and attacked with an axe after being lured to an empty house in Charterhouse Street on September 14, 2019.
Three members of the Albanian organised crime group responsible have been jailed for a total of 53 years after being cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Noza Saffari, 39, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, who was used to lure Mr Hussein to the address as a trusted friend, was jailed for 15 years.
Qazim Marku, 25, of Maxwell Road, West Drayton, in London, who was there as back up, and getaway driver Dorian Pirija, 33, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton, each got 19 years.
Cleveland Police say four men are still wanted after alleged leading members of the gang, including the gunman, have never been traced.
But the judge Mr Justice Wall said Saffari, Marku and Pirija each played “a significant role”.
He said: “This was a group attack. It was meticulously planned.
“It was carried out in order to protect or advance your group’s trade in illegal drugs.
“Weapons were acquired and used in the attack and your actions after the event were designed to conceal what you had done.”
The trial heard the three guilty men and others attended a “planning meeting” in Bolton for the attack on September 5.
The next day weapons including an axe and cable ties were bought from a B&Q, in Middlesbrough, and were found at Charterhouse Street after Mr Hussein was killed.
The gang originally planned to kill Mr Hussein on Friday, September 13, when members waited in the area for six hours.
Saffari, a fellow Kurd, tried to contact him numerous times by phone but could not reach him and so they returned the next day.
Mr Justice Wall said the motive for the killing was not clear but said: “It must have been connected to your group’s desire to control the cannabis trade in this area and improve the profitability of your enterprise.”
Prosecutor Francis FitzGibbon said number 25 Charterhouse Street was specifically chosen for the attack.
Despite his involvement in cannabis, Mr Hussein previously fought so-called Islamic State in his home country of Kurdistan and was a much-loved father to two young sons.
His partner Jennifer Buller said his death had left his family “crushed and devastated beyond measure”.
She said: “He was a brilliant father and his children saw him as their hero, a brave man who protected them.
“They knew about his involvement fighting against ISIS and felt so proud of this, as did the family and the rest of the Kurdish community.
“Those who took Hammo’s life have denied us all the chance to say goodbye properly, a basic right that bereaved families should have.
“Hammo will never get to grow old with his family and see his sons get married and have children of their own.
“He did not deserve to die, he had the right to live his life.”
In mitigation for all three defendants, John Elvidge QC said none of them intended a shotgun or axe would be used.