A man accused of shooting dead a father-of-two in the street revealed he left the UK for France on a sailing boat the next day.
After Xhem Krasniqi was fatally shot Edmund Nela sailed from Brighton Marina to “somewhere between Dunkirk and Calais”, he told jurors at Hove Crown Court yesterday. The boat arrived on the north coast of France and he headed to Brussels where he met his wife, Victoria Gale, and brother, Albert Nela.
The trio travelled to Paris and slept in a bus station, having run out of cash, he said.
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Ms Gale left the brothers in Paris and they continued on to Milan where they met their father, Nela revealed.
He told jurors he needed to see his father before returning to the UK to tell him what had happened because he feared his family’s lives were in danger.
Nela said he did not know scaffolder Mr Krasniqi, 31, had died until he saw his brother and Ms Gale in Belgium.
The court was told that since the incident Nela’s family, originally from Albania, had been granted residency in a European country, which was not named in court.
Nela was arrested in Milan and flown to Gatwick, where he was taken into custody.
Giving evidence in the dock, Nela, dressed in a dark suit, said he was “terrified”
after the shooting which happened in Selbourne Road, Hove, at 11.30pm on May 18 last year.
He told how he was running in Selbourne Road when he was approached by a man. He said the man “blocked”
him and said, in Albanian, “where the **** do you think you are going?”
Nela told jurors he “stepped into the road” to avoid the man.
Nela said: “As I stepped into the road a car came into the road and stopped at an angle. As soon as it stopped the door opened.”
He said a man got out and he was holding something.
“At that point I was really scared. I did not knowwhat it was. I had nowhere to run. I just reacted. I did not think.”
He said he used his karate training to grab the man and they tussled.
He continued: “As I put pressure on him, bang, that’s what I heard.
“At that stage [I thought], ‘this is serious, bang, it is a gun’. It [the gun] burnt my hand. It was hot.”
He said he ran off, still holding the gun, and “definitely one and possibly two” shots were fired.
He said he threw the gun into a garden shortly afterwards.
Nela told the court he was pursued by aBMW, understood to be the vehicle which had stopped originally, and hid in a front garden as it passed by twice.
The 32-year-old of no fixed address, said: “I was terrified. I was hiding in a front garden. It felt like forever, but Iwas probably there for about 20 minutes.”
Immediately afterwards he went to his friend Alex Griffin’s home. Borrowing his car, he said he returned to his home, at the time in Brighton, to see Ms Gale.
He said: “I was terrified. I said, ‘I had a fight. People jumped on me’.
“I said, ‘My life is in danger’.”
He told the court his brother returned from London and the decision was made for him to sail from Brighton Marina to France the next day.
Nela said on the night of the shooting he did not have a loaded 9mm pistol in the waistband of his trousers.
Nela denies murder, two counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
The trial continues.