A DRUG dealer was blasted to the back of the head with a sawn-off shotgun in a ‘carefully planned hit’ following a dispute with a rival gang, a murder trial has heard.

Jurors have heard that the alleged contract killing of Hemwand Ali Hussain was planned out in Bolton.

He suffered a single, fatal gunshot wound after being lured to a terraced house in Hartlepool in September 2019.

Francis Fitzgibbon QC told Teesside Crown Court how the father-of-two was involved in the supplying and growing of cannabis in specially converted houses in the north-east.

The conflict came to a fatal conclusion when Mr Hussain was eventually persuaded to come a property on Charterhouse Street to check out a prospective cannabis farm site.

Jurors heard how at least eight men were involved in the plot to kill Mr Hussain, including Anxelo Xhaferi, Noza Saffari, Dorian Pirija and Qazim Marku, who are all charged with his murder.

He said: “Each of these defendants played a vital role in the murder together with at least four other men who have so far avoided arrest.

“We say that it was a carefully planned hit on a man with whom the killers were in dispute, who had to be got rid of.

“He was a drug dealer; he went to Charterhouse Street for a meeting with other drug dealers or so he thought. They lured him there to kill him.”

Members of the gang are alleged to have met up in Bolton on September 5 to plan the execution-style killing.

On the following day, Xhaferi and Eugert Merizaj, who is still being hunted by police, were captured on CCTV buying an axe, gloves, cable ties and nylon rope from B&Q in Middlesbrough.

The court heard how there was regular contact between the defendants and other members of the gang as they tried to contact Mr Hussain in the days leading up to his death.

Eventually, they successfully got in touch with Mr Hussain and agreed to meet him in Hartlepool.

Mr Fitzgibbon QC said it would appear that Mr Hussain was shot and killed almost as soon as he entered the terraced house.

CCTV footage showed five men running away from the property with one of them, Kadiu, was carrying a bag over his shoulder believed to be used to carry the sawn-off shotgun.

Xhaferi, 24, of Acton Street, Middlesbrough; Saffari, 39, of Park Lane, Middlesbrough; 33-year-old Pirija, of Trillo Avenue, Bolton; and Qazim Marku, 24, of West Drayton, all deny murder.

The trial continues.