Ali Qazimaj Guilty Of Weybread Murders

13 March 2017, 15:48 | Updated: 13 March 2017, 15:51

Peter and Sylvia Stuart

A man has been found guilty of murdering a husband and wife in rural Suffolk after he was extradited to the UK from Luxembourg.

The body of Peter Stuart, 75, was found stabbed in shallow water in woodland near his home in Weybread, Suffolk, on June 3 last year, and his wife, Sylvia, 69, is missing presumed dead.

A jury took around three hours of deliberation to find 43-year-old Ali Qazimaj guilty of their murders following a month-long trial at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday.

There were gasps of relief from the public gallery as the unanimous verdicts were read out.

Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith told the jury: "I know you've not taken very long in absolute terms to reach your verdicts, but I don't find that at all surprising."

The defendant, who disputes his identity, claims he had never been to the UK before his arrest and extradition from Luxembourg. He was arrested in Luxembourg on June 16, and denied murder.

He claims he is 44-year-old Vital Dapi, that he is from the city of Elbasan in Albania and has been learning English since the age of 10.

Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, said Qazimaj had lived in Tilbury, Essex, and was a carer to the father-in-law of the Stuarts' daughter, Christy Paxman.

He said Qazimaj had gambling debts and believed the Stuarts to be millionaires.

Qazimaj had used the name Marco Costa in relation to his gambling debts, Mr Khalil said.

Friends of the Stuarts raised the alarm when the couple failed to attend their regular line dancing class on May 31 2016.

They were last seen alive on CCTV at Goodies Farm Shop in Pulham Market, Norfolk, on May 29.

A silver Citroen car was found by police in Dover and prosecutors said it had the defendant's fingerprints in it.

Qazimaj had told the court: "I don't know how they were planted there but it's not me."

He will be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday.