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Two men have been found guilty of murdering a man after breaking into a property in Westcliff to steal cannabis which was being grown inside.
Four others have been convicted of aggravated burglary.
The group – Leon Wright, Mitchell Harris, Scott Heaney, Brian Kinloch, Wesley Hendrickson, and Durald Sokoli – had met together in London with a plan to burgle a property in Tintern Avenue on December 12, 2019.
They armed themselves and travelled from North London into Southend before going to Tintern Avenue, Westcliff on Sea and breaking into the address through a bathroom window at the back of the property.
Two people inside were stabbed and one of them, 25 year-old Asqeri Spaho, was fatally injured.
The group then made off from the scene, discarding weapons, gloves and a balaclava before getting back into a vehicle and heading back to London.
Officers were called to a disturbance at the address at around 4.20am on December 12, finding Asqeri Spaho and the other man injured inside.
Asqeri was pronounced dead at the scene. The other man was taken to hospital for treatment on a stomach injury.
Officers also found cannabis being grown in two rooms and the loft.
Through analysis of CCTV footage and ANPR camera data detectives were able to identify the vehicles the group used.
They were then able to identify one of the vehicles was registered to Sokoli and another, a hire car, had been leased to Harris.
Through further investigations they were able to place individual members of the group either in the Southend area at the time of or slightly before the murder, or in the areas of London where and when they had originally met.
Forensic analysis identified DNA which could be attributed to Heaney on a knife found inside the property and one found nearby.
DNA belonging to Hendrickson and Wright was also found on items that were recovered from the address.
DNA which could be attribute to Kinloch was found on a pair of black gloves and a balaclava found nearby.
Sokoli, 28, of Ayley Croft, Enfield, Wright, 32, of Highbury New Park, London N5, Hendrickson, 32, of Ashford Crescent, Enfield, Kinloch, 32, of Beachcroft Way, London N19, and Heaney, 23, of Hurlock Street, London N5, were all arrested and later charged with murder.
Wright and Hendrickson were unanimously found guilty of all charges today (Wednesday April 21) following a trial at Basildon Crown Court.
The other four were convicted of aggravated burglary but not guilty of murder, manslaughter, and attempted murder.
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Greg Wood, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “These men devised a plan to break into the address and steal the drugs being grown inside.
“The fact they armed themselves with weapons indicates they were prepared to use violence and once inside Wright and Hendrickson violently assaulted the two men they found there leaving, Asqeri Spaho to die.
“This is a dangerous group of men who are now facing a significant amount of time in prison.
“This was a challenging investigation but through detailed and methodical analysis of the evidence the investigation team has been able to present the strongest possible case which has led to these convictions.”