Trial continues of Donegal Town man accused of hammer murder

The widow of a man found buried under 110lb of sand inside a van in Berkshire has told a jury his accused killers treated him like family and even called him a son or brother.

Shaleem Amar, 33, died from massive head injuries allegedly suffered in a brutal hammer attack on November 17 last year carried out at a luxury home he was renting through the men charged with his murder.

From Donegal Town, Robert Derek Johnston, 57, known by his middle name, and his sons Ben, 27, Tom, 25, and their employee Shaun Matthews, 56, all deny the murder charge.

The Daily Mail reports how the victim's widow, Shajiba Amar told Reading Crown Court that she met the entire Johnston family in the summer of last year at a central London restaurant where the birthday party of Derek's son Jamie Johnston, who is not involved in the case, was taking place.

She described the men's relationship with her husband as being "very close".

She said six weeks prior to his death the family had moved in to a gated luxury property that he was renting in Berkshire, but she was still renting an apartment in east London.

She said she and the children moved out but visited him at the weekend and she had also visited the property on the day of his death, but there was a white van parked in the driveway behind the gates, blocking her from entering.

After she hit the buzzer Derek Johnston came out of the house. She said: "He shut the back door of the van. He was ignoring me. When I greeted him he didn't look at my face. I thought he was being rude but didn't say anything."

She said when she asked where her husband was, he told her he'd gone to the airport to pick someone up. Mrs Amar said she never saw anything in the van.

The trial of Johnston senior, 57, and his two sons, all from Pampisford, Cambridgeshire, and Matthews, from Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, is expected to run until mid-December.

The case was adjourned to Monday