A Kosovan accused of driving the killers away from a murder in a snooker club has told the trial he was “petrified” of one of the men, who snorted lines of cocaine and then ordered him to “burn” the Land Rover.
Grineo Daka was shot dead at the Phoenix snooker club in Leyton, east London, around 3am on 7 July 2019.
Detectives originally charged Liridon Saliuka, 29, with murder but he was found dead in his cell in Belmarsh prison on 2 January 2020.
They later charged Jeton Krasniqi, 27, with murder and he is now on trial along with Edison Brahimi, 29, who denies four counts of perverting the course of justice.
On Wednesday 5 May Brahimi entered the witness box to give the jury his version of events.
Brahimi claimed he was downstairs at the snooker club when he heard three or four shots coming from upstairs and saw dozens of people running away.
He said he had no idea what was going on but was concerned for his brother Mirsad, who was upstairs at the time.
Snooker Club Was 'Foggy' After Gunshots
Brahimi said he went up the stairs and “peeped” around the corner but could not see much because it was “smoky” and “foggy” as a result of the gunshots.
The prosecution claim Jeton Krasniqi was the shooter and Liridon Saliuka had handed him the gun. But last week Krasniqi gave evidence, in which he accused Mr Saliuka of carrying out the shooting and said the gunman then gave him the murder weapon, asking him to dispose of it.
Krasniqi threw the gun into a neighbouring garden and claimed Mr Saliuka was “angry” with him when he found out what he had done with it.
Giving evidence Brahimi said he eventually found Mirsad and they both left the club, along with his friend Liridon Saliuka - who he had seen being chased out by a man with a baseball bat - and Jeton Krasniqi, who he claimed he did not know well.
He said Mirsad was “panicking” and he ended up driving off without him.
Brahimi claimed he asked Mr Saliuka what had happened inside the Phoenix and was told: “Shut the f*** up and just drive.”
He claimed he drove his rented Land Rover to Epping Forest with Mr Saliuka constantly snorting cocaine and acting erratically.
“He was erratic, fidgeting, angry. He had a lot of anger. He doesn’t ever talk to me like that unless he’s on drugs,” Brahimi told the jury.
He said Mr Saliuka then told him: “Pull over, I’m going to burn the car.”
But when he protested Mr Saliuka changed his mind and told him to drive to a friend’s apartment in Camden, north London.
'Cocaine Made Him Unpredictable'
James Scobie QC, defending, asked Brahimi why he had not stood up to Mr Saliuka and refused to go along with his demands.
Brahimi claimed Mr Saliuka was “unpredictable” when he was high on drugs and he decided not to confront him because he did not know what he might do.
“You can’t tell. He might use a weapon. He wanted to burn a vehicle and was high on drugs. I thought I’d wait until he got sober and then go along with my life,” said Brahimi.
He said he parked the Land Rover below the block of flats where the friend lived and then, still terrified of Mr Saliuka, handed him his car keys and his mobile phone.
Brahimi said Mr Saliuka left and he himself went home but could not sleep.
“I had never witnessed anything so bad. I was worried about how I was going to get the car back,” said Brahimi.
He said he later found out someone had died in the snooker club shooting and his first reaction was: “Liridon must be part of it because why else would he tell me to burn the car and then take the keys?”
Brahimi said: “I was petrified. I was shocked. I didn’t expect someone would die even thought there was a shooting. And I was piecing things together.”
Brahimi Claimed He 'Feared Retribution'
He said he “feared retribution” from associates of Grineo Daka and stayed in hiding until December 2020 when he was eventually arrested and charged.
The jury was then shown CCTV footage of Brahimi hugging Mr Saliuka in Belmarsh prison, where they were both in custody.
Brahimi said: “I just wanted to keep everything cool and calm.”
A few days later Mr Saliuka was dead.
Later, under cross examination from prosecutor Lisa Wilding QC, Brahimi was asked about his state of mind immediately after the shooting.
Ms Wilding asked: "Is it your evidence that as you pulled away it did not cross your mind that anyone in your car was involved in the shooting?"
"It didn't cross my mind," he replied.
Ms Wilding later asked: "It is your case that it was only when you got to Epping Forest and Liridon threatened to burn your car that you suddenly thought there is something amiss here?"
"That's correct," he replied.
'Under Pressure From A Psycho'
She asked why he had not persisted and tried to get an answer out of Mr Saliuka or Mr Krasniqi about what had transpired in the club.
"When you think about it after, yes I should have. But in that moment I was confused. I was under pressure from a psycho who was out of his head on coke," Brahimi replied.
The jury have been told police have not been able to ascertain Mirsad Brahimi’s whereabouts and it is not known if he is still in the country.
Under English law there is nobody in court representing Mr Saliuka or his family.
The trial continues.