Caretaker's death was allegedly ordered because his presence jeopardised a building's sale

A property developer ordered a man to be killed because he refused to leave a £2m building the developer had been trying to sell, it has been alleged in court.

Thanos Papalexis needed money for another development and feared the deal would collapse, according to the prosecution.

The body of 55-year-old caretaker Charalambos Christodoulides was discovered in a warehouse complex where he resided, in north-west London in 2000.

Thirty-six-year-old Papalexis, from Palm Beach, Florida, has denied murder, alongside two of his employees.

The prosecution claimed at the Old Bailey that the victim had been tied to a chair, tortured and strangled.

The defendant was said to have suffered financial trouble after purchasing a warehouse and a residential development in Holloway, north London in 1999.

The court heard that Papalexis endeavoured to sell the warehouse, despite not having completed the purchase, to raise money to pay the creditors. But Christodoulides reportedly jeopardised the deal by occupying a flat in the building.

The other two defendants, both Kosovan Albanian asylum seekers, had worked for Papalexis and were described as his “henchmen” in the murder.

The prosecutor said mobile phone calls, fingerprints and DNA from cigarette butts placed all three defendants in the warehouse at the time of the murder.

Papalexis reportedly confessed the murder to a prostitute in the US, who then contacted the authorities when she learned of his arrest and extradition last year.

The case continues.