‘I sold drugs to survive,’ dealer in Ilford station drug case tells court

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road.

Costa Coffee, Cranbrook Road. - Credit: Archant

One of the men accused of running a drugs ring from Ilford station operated alone and “sold drugs to survive”, a court has heard.

Klevis Locaj, 20, is one of four men accused of conspiring to supply heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis from the Costa Coffee in Cranbrook Road from March to September last year.

All four deny the charges, and are currently standing trial at Blackfriars Crown Court.

The first defendant to give testimony, Mr Locaj yesterday was asked by Judge Henry Blacksell QC why he had started selling drugs from the area outside the café in May.

He answered: “Money. I had no food. I had to sell something to survive.”

As he was cross-examined by prosecutor Martyn Bowyer, Mr Locaj revealed he spent five to seven hours a day in or around the Costa Coffee store attempting to sell cannabis, but insisted he did so alone.

When presented with photographs taken by British Transport Police (BTP) surveillance cameras that appeared to show him in a line with three other known drug dealers, Mr Locaj, who used an interpreter for most of the day, became frustrated.

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“I have told you this many times already,” he said in English.

“I am not part of any group, any gang, anything – everything I did, I did alone.”

But Mr Bowyer drew the jury’s attention to an incident on July 4.

When approached by an undercover BTP officer looking to purchase bags of both heroin and cocaine, which Mr Locaj claimed he had never possessed or sold, he is heard to whistle on camera.

“Do you accept that you whistled to gain the attention of someone who could sell him heroin or crack?” Mr Bowyer pressed.

Mr Locaj replied: “Maybe yes, maybe no.

“I never favoured other drug dealers, I just tried to help out customers who might come back to me to buy weed.”

The trial began with six defendants, but Aleem Khan was discharged by the jury early yesterday morning – found not guilty under direction from Judge Blacksell.

Following a legal argument made by his defence barrister Sarrah Kerslake late on Monday afternoon, Ardit Isha was also stood down from the current proceedings and will stand trial separately at a later date.

The trial of the four remaining defendants continues.