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Schizophrenia sufferer admits knifing fiancé to death in Angel flat

Elidona Demiraj from Albania died just a few months after arriving in the UK

15 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Elidona Demiraj who died last January

A SCHIZOPHRENIA sufferer pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his fiancée on the grounds of diminished responsibility on Friday.

Elidona Demiraj, 25, was knifed to death at a flat in Jessop Court, close to City Road basin, in January last year.

Ms Demiraj had moved from Albania to England just three months before her death to live with her fiancé.

Arben Rexha, 33, appeared at the Old Bai- ley accompanied by a mental health nurse to confirm his name and submit a plea. He cried throughout the hearing.

The prosecution and defence team clashed on Mr Rexha’s level of culpability given his mental health issues. Judge Nicholas Cooke said he could not decide on the sentence until further psychiatric reports had been submitted.

There was no one present from Ms Demiraj’s family in court. The defence argued Mr Rexha’s culpability was “small” while the prosecution said it was “medium to high”, which would result in a longer sentence.

“I can only sentence on matters that have been agreed. Were I to find him dangerous I would have to consider the possibility of a life sentence,” said Judge Cooke QC.

During the hearing it was revealed Mr Rexha had been diagnosed with schizophrenia while in prison. A trial scheduled for November last year was delayed until this month so he could be assessed by psychiatrists.

Following Ms Demi- raj’s death, London’s Albanian community raised more than £3,000 in less than 24 hours so that her body could be returned to her parents, who live close to the bor- der with Kosovo.

“Elidona was lovely. Everyone loved her,” said Luljeta Nuzi, who works for the Shpresa Pro- gramme, an advice

organisation for the Albanian-speaking com- munity in the UK which supported the Demiraj family.

“The family can never have their daughter back. A young man will lose his life in prison and she will never come back to see the sunlight. It’s a tragedy.”

Ms Nuzi said many Albanian women moving to London were left help- less if they encountered domestic violence.

“It can be difficult for Albanians. When they move to England they have no information and less rights, especially if they are claiming asylum. They have to find infor- mation for themselves,” she said.

Mr Rexha is expected be sentenced by Judge Cooke at the Old Bailey on December 15.

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