Pair paid to carry out murder

TWO hitmen tortured and murdered a mentally ill tenant who was blocking a multi-million pound property deal, a court heard. Illegal Albanian immigrants Yilli Xhelo, 36, and Robert Baxhija, 29, are accused of being paid to murder 55-year-old Charalambos

TWO hitmen tortured and murdered a mentally ill tenant who was blocking a multi-million pound property deal, a court heard.

Illegal Albanian immigrants Yilli Xhelo, 36, and Robert Baxhija, 29, are accused of being paid to murder 55-year-old Charalambos Christodoulides in March 2000.

The Old Bailey heard the victim was beaten into submission as he was tied to a chair, before being strangled to death.

His body was found two weeks later dumped under piles of rubbish in a garage inspection pit.

Thanos Papalexis, 36, was jailed for life last year for his part in the murder, after he wanted Mr Christodoulides out of his self-contained flat in an old warehouse in Bannister Road, Kilburn.

He had agreed the sale of the site for �2.3million, making him a �300,000 profit and saving him from ruin after an earlier development failed.

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Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said: "Facing the imminent collapse of his business Papalexis no doubt thought he could not afford any sort of delay in the onward sale of the premises.

"The victim was condemned to die for no other reason than he believed he may not be prepared to leave his home."

He told the court the Albanians were "henchmen" acting on Papalexis' instructions.

Xhelo and Baxhija had been deported after the killing but returned to the UK in 2008.

Police found their fingerprints in blood on tape used to restrain the victim and a plastic bag placed over his body.

But they deny murder and claim they went to the garage and found the body after Papalexis had murdered Mr Christodoulides on his own and forced them to clean up, wrap up the body and take it to the inspection pit.

The trial continues.

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