AN UNPAID drugs debt may have been a motive for a bloody murder, a court heard.

Francesco D’Agostino, 44, and Giuseppe Petriccione, 45, are jointly accused of killing 21-year-old Serxhio Marku in Stafford Road, Brighton.

Mr Marku was bludgeoned to death with a sharp object and had 20 wounds.

The two Italian men were found covered in blood and it was as if they had been jumping in a puddle, prosecutors said.

At Lewes Crown Court, it was revealed that Mr Marku had come to Britain from Albania without the right immigration papers.

His cousin Jetjon Hoxha said he had lived with Mr Marku in Buckingham Place, Brighton for seven months where the two had sold cocaine under the codename “Jack”.

One of their customers was D’Agostino, 44, who the duo knew as “Roma”.

They also knew Giuseppe Petriccione, 45, who lived with D’Agostino in a one bedroom flat in Stafford Road.

The court heard that both defendants had worked in a kitchen, understood to be at the Opposition Italian restaurant in Market Street.

Alan Kent QC, prosecuting, told jurors that Mr Marku’s bloody hand print was found around a doorframe at Stafford Road, suggesting he was hanging on to it as the defendants dragged him back into the property.

The Albanian drug dealer was the victim of a “brutal, sustained and determined attack”, the prosecutor said.

“The connection between Serxhio Marku and the two defendants was drugs, notably cocaine.

“What we don’t know is why he was attacked in the flat within minutes of him arriving,” Mr Kent said.

Jurors heard that the defendants blame each other for the murder.

A message in Italian from D’Agostino’s phone to one of his contacts read: “Tonight I will commit a murder.”

Mr Marku’s cousin Jetjon Hoxha described how the two had arrived in the country from Albania and turned to selling drugs to make ends meet.

Mr Hoxha did not make contact with police until days after his cousin’s death because he was scared of his immigration status and because he was a drug dealer, the court heard.

Brian Raymond Stork, defending D’Agostino, asked Mr Hoxha about allegedly threatening Petriccione over not paying for drugs.

He “suggested” to Mr Hoxha that he had a conversation with D’Agostino about Petriccione owing cash and had threatened to throw him off a bridge.

The barrister also suggested that Mr Hoxha had heard Petriccione’s voice on the telephone on the day of the killing, not D’Agostino’s.

“I do not accept that,” Mr Hoxha said.

John Price, representing Petriccione, has suggested that Mr Hoxha and Mr Marku had no arguments or problems with him, as claimed by D’Agostino.

“All those suggestions of arguments and problems, none of that was true, was it?” Mr Price asked.

“I don’t believe so,” Mr Hoxha replied.

D’Agostino and Petriccione deny murder.

The trial continues.