March 10 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Monday, February 10, 2014
A man jailed for life over the execution of a friend has launched a bid for freedom in front of the country’s top judge.
Lundrim Gjikokaj, 32, was convicted of shooting and stabbing 27-year-old Cima Sogojeva on the doorstep of his flat in Caroline Court, Highfield Road, Golders Green, in 2008.
But the Court of Appeal has heard that the Kosovan national had an alibi, which suggested he was not the killer.
His barrister, Paul Mendelle QC, said the Old Bailey jury which convicted him in October 2012 was not given sufficient help by the trial judge on how to consider the issue.
The prosecution case at trial was that Gjikokaj, of Elms Avenue, Reading, murdered Mr Sogojeva to avoid paying back a debt totalling £250,000.
He allegedly arrived at his friend’s flat in a fake gesture of goodwill, before killing him.
A post-mortem examination revealed the father-of-one had been shot six times and stabbed in the head and neck with kitchen knives.
But on appeal, Mr Mendelle told the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, that the murder conviction was “unsafe”.
Gjikokaj had always claimed he was not there when Mr Sogojeva was shot at about 11.12am on October 6, 2008.
CCTV cameras captured images of what may have been his car leaving the area minutes before, while telephone evidence suggested he had been in Hayes, Hillingdon, 30 minutes later.
Mr Mendelle said: “If he was in Hayes making phone calls, it was highly unlikely that he could have been in the flat at 11.12am.
“That would have left him about 21 or 22 minutes for a journey that police timed at 19 minutes with sirens blazing and going through every red light.
“It did not conclusively prove that he wasn’t there, but it was an important part of the alibi and it is something the learned judge should have dealt with.”
He said the jury might have been wrongly led into thinking that the defence had to prove it was Gjikokaj in the car, rather than the prosecution having to show it was not.
Lord Thomas, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Mitting and Mr Justice Simon last month, reserved his decision until a later date.