A MAN who played a key role in the murder of a father-of-two blasted to death with a sawn-off shotgun has been jailed for life.

Hemawand Ali Hussein was shot to death moments after being lured into a house by a suspected drugs gang looking to set up a cannabis farm.

The gangland-style execution was co-ordinated by a number of members of an Albanian 'killing team' in the weeks and days leading up to the murder.

The Northern Echo: Eugert Merizaj. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICEEugert Merizaj. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICE

Eugert Merizaj played a pivotal part in persuading the 40-year-old to turn up Chapterhouse Street, Hartlepool, in September 2019, where he was shot at point blank range within moments of setting foot in the house.

The 31-year-old managed to flee the country following the murder but was arrested in Belgium before being extradited to face his trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Read more: Hunt continues for Hemawand Ali Hussein murder suspects

Today, the judge, Honourable Mr Justice Nicholas Lavender QC, sentenced the defendant to a minimum of 32 years in custody.

"He was lured into the house in Hartlepool where he was shot in the head with a sawn-off shotgun. You did not pull the trigger and indeed you were not in the house when he was shot but you were involved in planning the attack on Mr Hussein," he said.

"You ended Mr Hussein's life and you brought grief and misery to the lives of others, especially his partner Jennifer Buller and his two sons who were only eight and ten when you took their father away from them."

Read more: Family's heartbreak after dad-of-two blasted to death with a sawn-off shotgun

Detectives from Cleveland Police pulled together hours of CCTV footage, mobile phone records and automatic number plate recognition data to piece together the movements of the ‘killing team’ deployed to execute Mr Hussein.

The Northern Echo: Hemawand Ali Hussein. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICEHemawand Ali Hussein. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICE

Noza Saffari, 39, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough, was jailed for 15 years after he was convicted of manslaughter and cleared of murder.

Qazim Marku, 25, of Maxwell Road, West Drayton, in London, Dorian Pirija, 33, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton, each got 19 years after they were also found guilty of manslaughter and cleared of murder.

Read more: 'Gangland execution' - three members jailed for role in brutal killing

A fourth man, Anxelo Xhaferi, was cleared of both charges.

Merizaj, of Montague Street, Leicester, was found guilty of murder last month.

Cleveland Police are still hunting three men wanted in connection with the brutal murder of Mr Hussein.

The men they would like to speak to are Sajmir Dodoveci, 36, 30-year-old Daniel Kadiu, and Armando Marku, 22. However police believe these individuals may also be known by other names.

If anyone has any information in relation to their whereabouts please contact Cleveland Police on 101. You can also provide information via the national policing portal at mipp.police.uk 

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted completely anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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