Killer's 'henchmen' jailed for life over murder

By Shenai Raif,Press Association
Monday 15 February 2010 16:04

A millionaire killer's two henchmen were jailed for life today for killing a harmless caretaker who may have stood in the way of a property deal.

Ylli Xhelo, 36, of no fixed address, was ordered to serve a minimum of 17 years.

Robert Baxhija, 30, of Sidney Avenue, Palmers Green, north London, was given a minimum 15-year term.

An Old Bailey jury last week found them guilty of murdering Charles Christodoulides, 55, in March 2000.

They worked as labourers for Thanos Papalexis, 37, who was jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years in September last year.

The prosecution said they had gone with Papalexis to the warehouse in Kilburn, north London, where the victim lived.

Papalexis was trying to buy the property from Mr Christodoulides's brother-in-law and sell it on in a £2 million deal to clear his debts.

But Papalexis attacked the caretaker, who was then tied to a chair and strangled. His body was found later hidden in a garage inspection pit.

Papalexis moved to Miami but was arrested in 2008.

Ylli and Baxhija, both Albanians, were deported from Britain after their asylum pleas were rejected.

But they too were re-arrested in 2008 after returning to Britain illegally.

Judge Jeremy Roberts told them: "I am sure that without your assistance, Thanos Papalexis would not have been able to commit the murder."

Mr Christodoulides's sister Anna told the judge her brother was "a quiet man going about his own simple life without harming anybody".

Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt said outside court he hoped the convictions would comfort Mr Christodoulides's family.

He added: "For nine years they suffered enormously knowing that no one had been held accountable for his murder."