AN Albanian migrant murdered a retired married couple he thought were millionaires after racking up gambling debts, a court has heard.
Ali Qazimaj, 43, stands accused of stabbing Peter Stuart, 75, nine times before trying to hide his body in tarpaulin in a water-filled ditch close to his Suffolk home.
He is also charged with the murder of Peter's wife, Sylvia, 69, even though her body has never been found.
Prosecutors say Qazimaj murdered the couple at some point between May 29 and June 3 last year – but he denies this.
The defendant claims he is the victim of mistaken identity and says he is called Vital Dapi.
Ipswich Crown Court was yesterday told Qazimaj had a serious gambling problem and spent up to £1,000 a day on gaming machines at bookmakers near his home in Tilbury, Essex.
He worked as a carer for Sidney Paxman, whose son, Steven, was married to the Stuarts’ daughter Christy.
Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Sidney Paxman had given Qazimaj around £10,000 over a number of years and had told him that Mr and Mrs Stuart were millionaires.
"Over the two years leading up to 2016, Sidney Paxman had given him the best part of £10,000," said Mr Khalil.
"Over these years Sidney Paxman will say he had told Ali Qazimaj about the Stuarts, describing them as millionaires, telling him about the difficulties between the Stuarts and Stephen (Paxman)."
Qazimaj also boasted to Sidney about a contract killing and pointed out marshland to him, saying it would be an ideal place to hide a body, Mr Khalil told the court.
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The couple were last seen alive on CCTV at Goodies Farm Shop in Pulham Market, Norfolk, on June 3 last year.
The trial heard that Mrs Stuart’s Barclaycard was missing from her handbag which was found at the isolated Weybread cottage she shared with her husband.
This card was later used to withdraw £300 from a cash machine, suggesting that her killer had found out her PIN number, prosecutors said.
Mr Khalil said there was fingerprint and DNA evidence, indicating that Qazimaj was guilty of both murders.
Qazimaj allegedly tried to sell the furniture from his flat in Tilbury, Essex, soon after Mr Stuart was found dead and then fled to France on a ferry, he added.
The court heard he was said to have found by police at a hostel for asylum seekers in Luxembourg and was extradited back to the UK.
Mr Khalil said it was the Crown’s case that the extradited man was Qazimaj even though he was claiming to be another man called Vital Dapi.
He told the jury: “At the heart of this case is a dispute about identification. We say that Ali Qazimaj murdered these two people. The defendant denies being Ali Qazimaj.
“He claims to be Vital Dapi. We say that is simply a lie. At the end of this case, you will have to decide whether Ali Qazimaj is the murderer and secondly whether this defendant is Ali Qazimaj.”
Qazimaj was said to have claimed asylum after arriving at Harwich, Essex, in 1999 and was given leave to remain in the UK five months later.
He was granted UK citizenship in 2005 and around the same time became a carer for Nellie Paxman, the second wife of Sidney Paxman.
Qazimaj was her carer for ten years until her death around two-years-ago and then became carer to Sidney, particularly after his hip replacement, said Mr Khalil.
The trial heard how Mr and Mrs Paxman had earlier lived on the same plot of land in Weybread as Mr and Mrs Stuart, but in separate houses.
Mr Khalil said there had been difficulties in the relationship between Mr Stuart and Mr Paxman who ran a business breeding dogs from the property
He said it led to him and his wife, selling their home for £400,000 and moving to Quorn, Leicestershire, in 2015.
The couple had agreed to split the £160,000 profit from their house sale with Mr and Mrs Stuart meaning they owed them £80,000.
Mr Khalil said they had paid £40,000 and owed another £40,000 which Mr Stuart wanted them to repay.
He added that Sidney Paxman had told Qazimaj about his son’s difficult relationship with Mr Stuart and how he had owed him the money.
Qazimaj denies murdering the couple between May 29 and June 3.
The trial continues.
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