FOUR men have pleaded not guilty to the murder of a father-of-two.

Hemwand Ali Hussain's body was found in a house on Charterhouse Street in Hartlepool on Sunday, September 15.

Initially Noza Saffari, 38, Anxhelo Xhaferi, 23, and Dorian Pirija, 32, were charged with murdering Mr Hussain, who was from Middlesbrough.

Saffari, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, and Xhaferi, of Acton Street, Middlesbrough, and Pirija, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton, were joined at Teesside Crown Court by a fourth co-defendant Florian Marku, of Maxwell Road, West Drayton, Middlesex.

A 33-year-old man, also arrested on suspicion of murder in London, has been released under investigation.

The family of Mr Hussain, who had two young sons, said in a statement after his death: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our partner and father Hemwand and we request that we are left to grieve in peace at this extremely difficult time.”

Judge Stephen Ashurst remanded the four defendants into custody.

A trial is expected to take place on February 25.