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Saturday, 14 July 2018

Boy, 16, found guilty of murder after killing shopkeeper in cigarette paper row and running away laughing



 A 16-year-old boy who killed a shopkeeper after he refused to sell him cigarette papers has been found guilty of murder.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, became aggressive when he and his friends were prevented from buying a packet of Rizla because they were under 18.

He threatened to break the windows of the shop before lashing out and smashing his forearm into the face of 49-year-old employee Vijaykumar Patel.

Mr Patel, who was standing with his hands in his pockets, dropped backwards and hit his head on the pavement after failing to break his fall.

The 16-year-old and his two friends fled the scene, leaving the victim unconscious on the ground in Mill Hill, north London.

"They appeared to be laughing, joking and happy about what had just taken place," said prosecutor Louis Mably QC.

Mr Patel suffered catastrophic head injuries and died in hospital the next day.


An investigation was launched after officers were called on January 6 by the London Ambulance Service to reports of a man who had been assaulted and injured in north west London.

Vijaykumar Patel, 49, was taken to a central London hospital for treatment but later died of his injuries.

Vijaykumar had been at work in a shop in Mill Hill on January 6 when three teenage boys entered and tried to buy some items, including cigarette papers.

Due to concerns about their age and a potential breach of licensing laws they were refused service after they were unable to provide suitable identification.

The three were unhappy about the decision and became aggressive, threatening to vandalise the shop.

Vijaykumar and a colleague went outside after them to ensure no damage was done to the shop.

The youth continued to be aggressive, challenging the pair to a fight and being abusive.

Vijaykumar did not move towards or gesture at any of the group; he only went outside to ensure his shop would not be damaged.

While he was waiting for them to move on he was struck by the 16-year-old boy with force across his neck causing him to fall to the floor and suffer catastrophic head injuries.

 

The colleague was also punched by the teenagers. He suffered minor injuries and did not require hospital treatment.

A post-mortem examination held at Northwick Park Hospital Mortuary on January 11 gave the provisional cause of Mr Patel's death as head injuries.

An investigation was immediately launched by officers from the Homicide and Major Crime Command.

Forensic analysis was completed at the extensive crime scene and local CCTV footage from inside and outside the shop captured those involved.

They were circulated to local CID officers and detectives, and arrested two days later on January 8.

The youth refused to cooperate with police and answered "no comment" to even the most basic questions put to him.

Two boys - aged 16 and aged 15 - were arrested after they attended a central London police station.

They were subsequently bailed.

The 16-year-old was given a youth caution on Thursday, 22 March for a Section 4 Public Order Act in relation to his actions towards the shop owner and witness.

The 15-year-old was released with no further action on all matters on January 19.

 Detective Chief Inspector Luke Marks, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: "It beggars belief that a family man with two kids has lost his life over an argument about cigarette papers that got out of hand.

This was an unprovoked spontaneous incident sparked entirely by the refusal to let the suspects buy what they wanted.

"A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law, which is there to protect everyone - including young people.

"I would like to praise the work of the team who built a strong case, and the victim's family and friends who have conducted themselves with the utmost dignity.

"Vijaykumar was a loving son, brother, father and husband, and his family are left mourning his death, wondering how someone could use such abhorrent and casual violence.

 "I hope this conviction will bring some sense of justice to the family who have been devastated by Vijaykumar's murder. He truly was a decent, hard-working family man who in no way contributed to his own demise.

"I would like to add that the local policing team in the Mill Hill area are in regular contact with business owners and other members of the community.

"Since this attack, officers have been meeting local retailers to provide reassurance and crime prevention advice. Officers will continue to engage with the business community to gauge any concerns they have."
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