Closer The Chainsmokers
A man's been found guilty of murdering a drug dealer whose body was found in his burning car near Southampton last year.
Arben Lleshi has been sentenced to life with a minimum term of 32 years at Winchester Crown Court.
In addition to this the 27-year-old from Onslow Road in Southampton was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to four years imprisonment to run concurrently.
36-year-old Afrim Lleshi from Shirley Road was found not guilty of the murder of Agim Hoxha but pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and was jailed for three years and three months.
Agim's body was found when firefighters were called to his burning Mercedes in Chilworth Lane near Southampton in April last year. He had been beaten to death at a flat in Shirley.
Detective Inspector Scott Clarke was the senior investigating officer in the case:
“We welcome today’s guilty verdict against Arben Lleshi and hope it delivers the justice for Agim Hoxha that his family wanted.
“This trial was the culmination of a thorough and painstaking investigation that involved more than a hundred police officers and staff.
“At the beginning of the investigation we were faced with an unidentified victim, no murder scene or weapon and no immediate suspects.
"We quickly made inroads into the Albanian community, developing an intelligence picture and evidence trail that led our officers to Albania and then Italy where Arben Lleshi was arrested.
“We hope that this conviction demonstrates to people of all nationalities that if they are a victim of crime in Hampshire we will thoroughly and professionally investigate it.
"Our determination to secure justice knows no national boundaries and if you try to evade arrest by leaving the country we will use all resources at our disposal to find you.
“Members of some communities may be reluctant to engage with the British police or report crimes to us after bad experiences with the police in their own countries, but I want to reassure them that we will take all crimes committed against them seriously.
“Though the second defendant, Afrim Lleshi, was found not guilty of murdering Mr Hoxha, he has admitted disposing of his body and has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.
“Although we may never know the exact motive for Mr Hoxha’s murder we are convinced it was because of his involvement in the drugs trade.
"Throughout the course of the investigation into his murder, detectives worked closely with colleagues from Operation Fortress, the force’s proactive campaign to reduce drug-related violence.
“This work will continue and we want drug dealers to know that they will be aggressively targeted by Hampshire Constabulary and will not be able to ply their trade easily.
"We hope that, in addition to delivering justice for Agim Hoxha, this verdict sends a clear message to those involved in serious organised crime or the drugs trade that we will work tirelessly to track them down and bring them to justice.
“I would like to commend the officers and staff who worked so hard to secure the evidence that led to these convictions, and to the public who came forward with information that supported the investigation.”
Agim Hoxha's family have released a statement following the verdict:
"What our family wanted is justice for the murder of Agim and today that justice has been done.
"We thank Hampshire Constabulary for the professionalism and support they have shown throughout this investigation.
"Agim’s death has left a large hole in the hearts and lives of his mother, father, family in Albania and close relatives in the UK.
"Agim was a good loving son, brother and a best friend to everyone.
"Everybody who knew him found him to be an exceptional person who was full of kindness and warmth and no matter what he had got involved in, he didn’t deserve to have his life taken in such a manner or so early in his promising life.
"Agim will never be forgotten and will always be in our hearts.
"May Agim’s soul rest in peace."