'Twisted' murderer Ali Qazimaj is jailed for 35 years

Sylvia Stuart and Peter Stuart Image copyright Diss Express
Image caption The body of Peter Stuart was found on 3 June, but his wife Sylvia remains missing, presumed dead

A "twisted" killer who murdered a retired couple has been jailed for a minimum of 35 years.

The body of Peter Stuart, 75, was found near his home Weybread in Suffolk in June, but his 69-year-old wife Sylvia has never been found.

Ali Qazimaj, 43, from Tilbury, Essex, claimed he was on trial in a case of mistaken identity but was found guilty of their murders on Monday.

He had claimed he was an Albanian national called Vital Dapi.

In a translated statement read at Ipswich Crown Court by his barrister Max Hill QC, Qazimaj continued to protest his innocence.

"I'm a just man who could never kill a fly, let alone two people," he said.

Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith said: "These were terrible and exceptional crimes against an elderly couple who had earned the right to spend the rest of their lives in peace and tranquillity."

Image copyright Suffolk Police
Image caption Ali Qazimaj told the court he was innocent and had never been to the UK

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Mr and Mrs Stuart were last seen alive at a farm shop in Pulham Market, Norfolk, on 29 May.

They were reported missing on 3 June, the same day that Mr Stuart's body was found in a stream next to their home.

'Twisted individual'

Qazimaj told his trial that he was 44-year-old Dapi, and he had never been to the UK until he was arrested in Luxembourg in July and extradited here.

Suffolk Police believe Qazimaj originates from Albania and had been in the UK since 1999, when he claimed to be from Kosovo and was granted asylum.

The court heard he had worked as a carer for a relative of the Stuarts' son-in-law.

In a statement, the Stuarts' family said: "To the twisted individual who committed this wicked crime, we hope you spend the rest of your miserable existence reflecting on the utter senselessness and brutality of what you did to two innocent people.

"Maybe one day you will find the moral courage to tell us where mum is so that we may give her and our family some final peace."

Qazimaj's statement in court also said: "I feel sorry for the Stuarts' daughter, but I can't help. I don't know where her mother's body is."

He showed no reaction as he was led to the cells.

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