Debtor shot pal six times, Old Bailey told

A 30-year-old father was brutally murdered in his Golders Green home after he demanded a friend repay a loan of �250,000, a court has heard.

Career criminal Cima Sogojeva had been piling pressure on his friend Lundrim Gjikokaj to return the sizeable sum in the weeks leading up to his death, jurors heard on Tuesday.

Mr Sogojeva, who stole hundreds of thousands of pounds from West End parking meters, had even threatened to harm Gjikokaj’s family if he failed to repay him, the Old Bailey heard.

Gjikokaj agreed to meet Mr Sogojeva at his flat in Caroline Court, Highfield Road, Golders Green, to hand over the cash on October 6, 2008.

But minutes after Gjikokaj visited the home, armed police found Mr Sogojeva’s bullet-riddled body sprawled on the living room floor of his flat after a neighbour raised the alarm.

A post-mortem revealed the father -of-one had been shot six times and stabbed in the head and neck with kitchen knives.

An officer at the scene said the Albanian was found “almost in an attitude of prayer” with a bullet lodged in his hand.

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Opening the case prosecutor Bobbie Cheema said that Gjikokaj had fallen into serious debt after a bar he owned in the George Hotel in Reading started to struggle.

His gambling debts spiralled out of control, with Gjikokaj blowing �64,000 in one visit to a casino, she said.

Ms Cheema said: “These demands presented the defendant with a dilemma – a serious dilemma. He was in financial difficulties at the time and he simply did not have the sort of money that Mr Sogojeva wanted.”

She added: “He went there (Mr Sogojeva’s home) as arranged with Cima. Instead of turning up with the money Cima was expecting, he went there with quite a different intention.

“He went to deal once and for all with the threat that Cima posed to him.”

Although the weapon has never been found, cartridges from what is believed to be a Russian pistol were recovered from Mr Sogojeva’s living room and from a drain at the junction of Highfield Road and Brookside Road in Golders Green.

Forensic officers also found microscopic particles of firearm discharge residue on a hire car which Gjikokaj, 31, had been driving on the day of the killing.

Kosovan Gjikokaj, of Elms Avenue, Reading, denies one count of murder.

He told police in an interview in 2008 that it had “broken his heart” when he heard his friend had been killed.

The pair had become friends after Mr Sogojeva moved to the UK in 1998.

They had known each other for five years and Gjikokaj had been trying to help Mr Sogojeva recover �177,000 in cash seized by the police in 2008 during raids on safe deposit boxes in Hampstead, Mayfair and Edgware.

The trial continues.