A woman visiting a vet's surgery opposite the home of Mohammed Raja on the day of his murder saw David Croke driving a van away from the scene, a jury heard today.

Valerie Willcox picked out 59-year-old Croke, of Bolney Road, Moulsecoomb, Brighton, from a video line-up, the Old Bailey was told.

Mrs Willcox was visiting the vet with her cat on July 2, 1999.

That morning, Brighton landlord Mr Raja was shot and stabbed to death by two hit men dressed as gardeners who fled in a van, the prosecution alleges.

Mrs Willcox picked Croke from nine men on a film when she was interviewed by police in 2001.

She said: "It was two and a half years after the event. I was surprised at my reaction to a particular face. When I saw it through the second time, I thought 'I'm right' and I just wanted to confirm that to myself before I said anything.

"I wanted to be absolutely sure because I sat there thinking this could put someone away and if I am not sure, I had a duty to say I could not make an identification.

"I knew I could make an identification."

Cross-examining her, Malcolm Swift QC said: "We all make mistakes, don't we? This is, I suggest, one you have made."

Croke, Robert Knapp, 53, from Abbeyfeal, County Limerick, and millionaire businessman Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, 57, of Framfield, near Uckfield, all deny murder.

Hoogstraten also denies conspiring to murder 63-year-old Mr Raja.

The court heard today from Det Con David Wenham, who interviewed Mr Raja's grandson, Rizvan, a witness to the shooting.

He told the court the first name written in his notepad was Nicholas Van Hoogstraten.

Mr Wenham told the jury: "Straight away Rizvan said he thought it was Van Hoogstraten and his men. First of all he explained why he thought that - because there was a case going on at County Court between his grandfather and Mr Van Hoogstraten."

Yesterday Mr Raja's grandson's Rizvan and Waheed described the moment their grandfather was stabbed and shot.

The brothers said they were upstairs when they heard a shot and shouting and ran downstairs to investigate.

They said they saw their grandfather bleeding and he told them in Punjabi: "They are Hoogstraten's men."

Rizvan told the jury of his fear as the gunman pointed a shotgun at him.

He said: "He brought up his gun and he aimed it towards me.

"I slammed the kitchen door. Then I was lying on the floor thinking any moment a bullet would come through the door."

Waheed, 20, said he had gone back to call the police from his aunt's bedroom.

He said: "You can see the other side of the road from the room. Before I went downstairs, I saw these two men jump into a white van."

Both brothers described the men as wearing hats one carrying the gun and the other holding a garden fork.

The trial continues.