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Unemployed mum among four people arrested in UK in connection with 'blood feud' murder in Albania

UK EXCLUSIVE: AN unemployed British mum was among four people arrested in the UK in connection with a "blood feud" murder in Albania.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that Harriet Bridgeman, 27, was arrested on an international arrest warrant from Albania.

Albanian prosecutors allege that she was involved in staking out the murder scene 14 days before Ardian Nikulaj, 51, was shot dead in his own coffee bar in Shengjin, Albania, on April 19.

She appeared at the court for a bail application on Friday, May 5, while she fights extradition to Albania to face further questioning over the murder carried out by a man who fled on a motorcycle and remained at large yesterday.

Also appearing at the same court was unemployed Thomas Mithan, 35, also from Bristol, who flew out to Albania with her, but left before the alleged reconnaissance took place.

Steven Hunt, 49, from Bristol also appeared at the same court, but did not apply for bail nor did British-Albanian Edmond Haxhia, 37, from Birmingham, who is accused of organising the murder.

Zoe Lash, for the CPS representing Albania, said: "The court in Albania issued warrants for four people in relation to a premeditated murder conspiracy due to a blood feud."

The court heard Mr Nikulaj was shot six times at his venue called the Coral at 1:23pm on April 19 by a gunman waring a motorbike helmet who entered the café.

The court heard he fled on a grey motorbike and left Albania for Greece on foot the same day.

She said that Haxhia is suspected of organising the murder and that a vehicle he hired was used to pick up the other three when they arrived at the airport, between April 3 and 5, to take them to their hotel, which is owned by the victim's brother.

She said a 25-year blood feud between relatives of Haxhia and the victim stemmed back to another murder in 1997.

Ms Lash said that Hunt and Bridgman were driven to the victim's residence as well as his brother's hotel, so they could "get to know movements made by the victim during the day"

The court hard that Hunt arrived on April 5 and went to the same hotel to join Bridgeman and Mithan.

However, Mithan, who was only in Albania for 36 hours, left later left the same day, while Hunt and Bridgeman later visited the Coral.

Shecadded: "Miss Bridgeman and Mr Hunt then go to the Coral bar, where the shooting later takes place, and are seen to record the scene on their phones.

"The allegation against these two is that they assisted Mr Hoxhia in organising this murder by providing surveillance of the victim. It is an accusation, but it is such a serious offence that there are no conditions of bail that would be suitable to address fears in relation to failure to surrender to custody."

However, she was granted conditional bail due to having a young daughter who is reliant on her.

The court heard that when Mithan, who has a drug supply and possession conviction, was arrested on April 29 he "made a number of statements to police denying that he was involved", saying "I did not want to get messed up in this shit and that is why I came back."

Mithan's lawyer argued there was no evidence he was involved in the murder plot.

Mithan, Hunt and Hoxhia were remanded in custody with the extradition case adjourned until June.

A sixth suspect, who the court heard arrived in Albania on April 11 and was collected from the airport in a vehicle hired by Hoxhia, before also going to the Coral, is also still at large.

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