Man jailed for Weybread murders refused leave to appeal
PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 15 April 2019
The man jailed for the murder of retired couple Peter and Sylvia Stuart has failed in a bid to appeal against his conviction.
Ali Qazimaj, 45, from Tilbury, Essex, who was jailed for a minimum of 35 years, had sought permission to appeal after being found guilty of the murders in 2017.
The body of Peter Stuart, 75, who had been stabbed nine times, was found in a ditch in woodland close to his home in Mill Lane at Weybread, near Diss, in June 2016, but his 69-year-old wife Sylvia has never been found.
Sentencing Qazimaj, Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith described the killings as “exceptional and terrible” and described him as a “ruthless and accomplished killer”.
The former asylum seeker who came to the UK in 1999, had insisted throughout the trial that he was the victim of mistaken identity and claimed he had never set foot in the UK before being extradited from Luxembourg. He had claimed to be an Albanian national called Vital Dapi.
At a hearing in London last Thursday, a judge at the Court of Appeal who considered the papers from the case rejected an application for permission to appeal.
It comes as a TV documentary about the murders and their on-going impact on the quiet village is set to be broadcast tomorrow.
The Murderer Next Door, which will be shown on Channel 5 at 10pm, features interviews with detectives involved in the case, local people, and people who knew Qazimaj, but does not include contributions from the Stuart's family.
Sarah Rest, the series producer, said: “The family were kept informed by the police but did not want to be involved. But they knew about it and said go ahead but we do not want to be interviewed.
“The police offered up this case as one that they had worked hard to solve and there is still a cold case review because Mrs Stuart's body has never been found.
“The focus is also on the effects on local communities. It was a real shock for the people of Weybread to suddenly have this big police activity in their community. Suddenly there was also suspicion on everyone, looking around going could there be a killer living amidst us?”
The Rev Susan Loxton, vicar at St Andrew's Church in Weybread, who is interviewed in the programme, said the murders still cast a shadow on village life.
“There is still a lot of interest from people because they didn't find Mrs Stuart's body, though the police are adamant she died,” she said.
“People knew Mr and Mrs Stuart and so it was very shocking because these villages are very quiet. People at the time were fearful of walking their dog in case they found anything. It was just horrible.
“Everyone still feels really sad for the family. It is hard enough to lose anyone you love but to lose them in those circumstances must be really painful.”