A kitchen worker who murdered his drug dealer in a brutal and sustained attack has been jailed for life.
Francesco D’Agostino, 45, texted a friend to say he was going to commit a murder just hours before he repeatedly stabbed Serxhio Marku and then bludgeoned him with two metal poles.
He ordered a delivery of cocaine from Marku, and then set upon the 21-year-old Albanian within moments of him arriving at his flat in Stafford Road, Brighton, in the early hours of Wednesday 11 September last year.
A pathologist said there were 13 stab wounds and between 25-50 blows found on his body at post mortem, and defensive injuries to his hands showed he had tried to resist the attack.
Neighbours heard him repeatedly ask: “Why are you doing this to me?” as the attack was unfolding inside the flat. At one point, Mr Marku tried to leave the flat but was dragged back inside.
When police arrived, D’Agostino and his friend, fellow Italian national Giuseppe Petriccione, refused to let them in and fled through the garden.
The pair both stood trial at Brighton Crown Court, first in March during a trial which had to be abandoned because of the lockdown, and then at a retrial which started on Monday, September 21.
Yesterday, Petriccione, 46, was acquitted but D’Agostino, 45, was found unanimously guilty by the jury.
Today, Judge Christine Laing sentenced D’Agostino to life in prison, to serve a minimum term of 22 years for the “brutal and sustained attack”.
She said: “Serxhio Marku was a much loved son, brother, nephew and cousin. He had entered the UK illegally and so his employment options were limited, and he became involved in the sale of Class A drugs.
“Although a serious crime, it involves a way of life which carries with it inherent dangers which this case illustrates.
“He was just 21 years old and he had a lifetime ahead of him to find a proper way of life and fulfil the potential his family saw in him.
“But all that was taken away from him.”
She told D’Agostino he had lied throughout the process, at first saying Mr Marku was a sweet boy who looked up to him, and then at retrial claiming Mr Marku had attacked him first – a claim Judge Laing described as a “pack of lies”.
She said: “Why you have attacked him will in all likelihood never be known unless you can find the decency to tell people in the future.
“I have little doubt that your addiction to class A drugs, nominally crack cocaine, played a significant part in this.
“You sent a text message saying tonight I will commit a murder. You claimed in your evidence that it was just a joke, but within two and a half hours you had done just that.
“For whatever reason you killed Serxhio Marku, you arrange for him to come to the flat, he on the understanding he was coming to deliver you some drugs … I am quite satisfied that this was a pre planned attack.”
The court was also read a statement by Mr Marku’s uncle, Nderim Marku, who described the effect it has had on his family.
Mr Marku said 4,000 people had attended his nephew’s funeral in Albania. He said Serxhio was a “kind and caring happy guy, known as an amazing son, wonderful brother, nephew and friend to anyone.”
He said: “There will always be unanswered questions that haunt me to this day and will do for the rest of my life.
“Mere words cannot express how much hurt the family has felt since the loss. We never wear colours now, we always wear black.
“The screams and tears I heard at his funeral are just another memory that will haunt me forever.
“His father and brothers are destroyed. His mother has lost so much weight, she is unrecognisable. She just stays by his grave every day.”
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