A man was jailed today for carrying out the 'meticulously planned' gangland style execution of a drugs rival in Hartlepool.
Hamawand Ali Hussein, known as Hammo, was lured to an empty house in Hartlepool in September 2019.
Just moments after stepping through the door, he was shot in the back of the head at point blank range with a sawn off shotgun.
Teesside Crown Court was told that Mr Hussein was a rival to a drugs gang who'd spent weeks planning the murder.
Defendant Eugert Merizaj bought an axe and cable ties to help carry out the execution while another gang member fired the gun.
Merizaj, 31, fled the UK following the murder and was traced during an international police search.
He was found in Belgium living under a false name and extradited to the UK for trial.
Passing a life sentence with a minimum of 32 years, the Judge Mr Justice Lavender told him:
"You did not pull the trigger... but I am sure you intended that Mr Hussein should be killed, your purchase of an axe makes that clear"
Merizaj's conviction is the latest in relation to the case.
Last year, three men were jailed for manslaughter following Mr Hussein's death.
Mr Hussein's partner, Jennifer Buller who is mother to the couple's two young sons, read a victim impact statement to the court.
"What has happened to Hammo has crushed and devastated our family beyond measure. Our lives have changed forever since he was taken away from us," she said.
"He was a happy and laid back person. We loved each other and he was a brilliant father to our two young sons.
"Family and loyalty was very important to him. He had a close relationship with his parents and siblings in Kurdistan and was loved and respected by the Kurdish community in the UK."
She added: "Hearing that Hammo had died was one of the worst moments of my life. I had to identify him in the mortuary, something which will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"I wasn’t even able to touch or hold him. I had to go home and tell our sons that their dad had been killed.
"To see their faces looking at me for answers I could not give them is something no mother should have to go through."
Cleveland Police are now searching for another three men in connection to the case.
Sajmir Dodoveci, Daniel Kadiu and Armando Marku are believed to be living overseas and Detectives on Teesside are working with international crime agencies to trace them.