Man accused of Weybread double murder had gambling debts, Ipswich Crown Court told

Peter and Sylvia Stuart

Peter and Sylvia Stuart - Credit: PA

A former asylum seeker with gambling debts murdered a Suffolk couple he had been told were millionaires, it has been alleged.

The man the prosecution say is Ali Qazimaj, which he denies

The man the prosecution say is Ali Qazimaj, which he denies - Credit: Archant

The body of 75-year-old Peter Stuart was found in a ditch in woodland near his home in Mill Lane, Weybread, with multiple stab wounds in June last year and the body of his 69-year old wife Sylvia had never been found, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, alleged the killings were carried out by 43-year-old Ali Qazimaj, a former asylum seeker who came to the UK in 1999.

However, Mr Khalil told the court that the man the prosecution believed to be Qazimaj denied being him and claimed his name was Vital Dapi and that he had never been to the UK before he was brought to England from Luxembourg last July.

The defendant denies murdering Mr and Mrs Stuart between May 29 and June 3 last year.

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Mr Khalil said: “At the heart of this case is a dispute about identification. We say that Ali Qazimaj killed these two people.

“The defendant denies being Ali Qazimaj. He claims to be a man called Vital Dapi. We say that is simply a lie.”

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The jury were told they would have to decide if Ali Qazimaj was the murderer and whether the defendant was Ali Qazimaj.

Mr Khalil alleged that Qazimaj knew of the Stuarts through a connection with their son-in-law Stephen Paxman who is married to the couple’s daughter Christy.

Qazimaj, who lived in Darwin Road, Tilbury, had been a carer for Stephen Paxman’s father Sidney and his second wife and through them he had learned about the Stuarts.

The court heard that the Stuarts were both keen line dancers and concerns were raised after they missed a weekly class in Eye on May 31 last year without saying why and a neighbour noticed their post box hadn’t been emptied for two days.

The police became involved on June 3 and officers found Mr Stuart’s body in a ditch in woodland near his home.

A pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination found Mr Stuart had been stabbed nine times and said “severe” force would have been used to inflict some of the wounds.

Mr Khalil said the couple were last seen alive on the morning of May 29 at Goodies Farm Shop in Pulham Market, Norfolk, which was around 20 minutes drive from their home.

He alleged they were murdered between 10.17am on May 29 and 10.24pm on May 30 when Mrs Stuart’s Barclaycard was used to withdraw money from a cash machine.

Mr Khalil said that despite extensive efforts by police Mrs Stuart’s body had not been found. “You can be entirely sure she was murdered along with her husband and we say the defendant has hidden her body more successfully than her husband’s,” Mr Khalil told the jury.

The jury heard that Qazimaj had become a UK citizen in 2005 after arriving at Harwich in 1999 claiming to be from Yugoslavia.

Mr Khalil claimed that Qazimaj, who was also said to go by the name of Marco Costa, had a gambling habit which had resulted in him getting into debt.

In the two years before the Stuarts were killed Sidney Paxman had allegedly given Qazimaj around £10,000 and shortly before the alleged murders he had borrowed £700 from a work colleague .

Mr Khalil alleged that Sidney Paxman had told Qazimaj the Stuarts were millionaires and that Qazimaj had told him he had carried out a contract killing in Serbia in 2015.

Qazimaj had also allegedly made a comment to Mr Paxman about marshes near Tilbury being a “good place to dispose of a body”.

The court heard the prosecution had mobile phone and traffic camera evidence of Qazimaj making trips to and from the area of the Stuarts’ home and back to Essex prior to their deaths.

The trial continues.

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