Murder accused denies Hartlepool shotgun killing and says 'I was cannabis farmer'
An Albanian illegal immigrant on trial for the murder of a drug dealer in Hartlepool said he was a cannabis farmer not a killer.
Qazim Marku, 25, is one of four men standing trial at Teesside Crown Court for the murder of Hamawand Ali Hussain who was killed inside a derelict house in Charterhouse Street on Saturday, September 14, in 2019.
Prosecutors claim Mr Hussain was lured to the address by a gang of Albanian drug dealers and killed after being shot with a shotgun at point-blank range.
Several other suspects believed to have been involved have not been traced by police.
Marku accepts being in the house when Mr Hussain, 30, who is said to have been involved in cannabis farms and dealing, was shot.
But he said he was not in the room where Mr Hussain was killed and was there in connection with plans to use it for a cannabis farm.
Nicholas Corsellis QC, defending Marku, asked him: “At the time that Mr Hussain was shot, whereabouts were you in 25 Charterhouse Street?”
Marku said: “When he was shot I was on top of the stairs.”
Mr Corsellis added: “Were you part of a plan to injure or kill Mr Hussain?”
Marku said: “No, never.”
He told the jury how he decided to get involved in cannabis production to try to pay off a £20,000 debt he had from him and his brother entering the UK illegally.
Marku described how he was smuggled into the country twice in the back of a lorry after being deported the first time in 2016.
He worked as scaffolder in London but was not earning much money so reached out to people involved in growing cannabis.
Marku said: “It’s not something I wanted to do, it was something to be done so I could pay this money off.”
He said he intended to be involved in cannabis growing for only six months, just long enough to pay off the debt.
Marku claims fellow defendant Dorian Pirija, 33, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton, transported cannabis growing materials.
And he said the first time he saw defendant Noza Saffari, 39, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, was when Saffari ran out of Charterhouse Street after the killing.
Marku, Maxwell Road, of West Drayton, London, denies murder.
The trial continues.