Case: Shopkeeper attacked in Mill Hill: Vijay Patel
Vijay Patel
16 year-old boy
Status: Solved
Categories: Uncategorised
Case synopsis:

Shop worker Vijay Patel, 49, died two days after being assaulted at a convenience store in Mill Hill.

He was working at Rota Express in The Broadway when three teenagers tried to buy cigarette papers without identification.

They reacted aggressively to being refused service and threatened to smash the shop window.

Mr Patel, from Colindale, was struck by one of the group on the pavement outside and collapsed, suffering critical injuries.

The suspects then fled laughing in the direction of Mill Hill Broadway station. One of them was heard to say: '"You got him good".

Police were called to the scene at around 11.45pm on 6 January 2018. Mr Patel was taken to hospital and died at 7.01pm on 8 January. A post-mortem found bruising to the left side of his face and jaw and confirmed the cause of death was head injuries.

A 16 year-old boy, who cannot be identified, was arrested late on 8 January and charged with murder the following day. The charge was later reduced to manslaughter.

On 10 January two boys aged 15 and 16 were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder after attending a police station followin a police appeal. One was given a caution for a public order offence and another was released with no further action.

The manslaughter trial began at the Old Bailey on 2 July 2018. The 16 year-old boy was convicted of manslaughter on 9 July 2018. 

On 7  September 2018 the boy was sentenced to four years in detention with an extended licence period of three years.

CCTV inside the shop captured the attack on Mr Patel just outside the front door of the shop.

Shopkeeper Abdullah Rahimzai told the court that the 16 year-old boy launched the attack after shouting: "Why did you come out motherfucker? Do you want a fight?"

Prosecutor Louis Mably said: "The boy suddenly lunged at Mr Patel, flew towards him and smashed him in the upper part of his body with his right forearm.

"Mr Patel was standing on the pavement with his hands in his pockets and this came as a complete surprise."

The boy was identified from CCTV footage and Mr Patel's saliva was found on the right sleeve of his jacket.

He made no comment in police interview.

The judge, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told the boy: ‘I accept that you didn’t go to the shop looking for trouble.‘I also accept that although you were offensive to the shop manager as you left his shop, you didn’t at that stage have any intention of taking things further.

‘When you were outside the shop and the manager and Mr Patel came out I accept that the manager was ‘in your face’; not unsurprisingly given his understandable concerns about what was going on.

‘But Mr Patel was well away and was not doing anything to you or generally that might affect you. The CCTV shows that he was standing away with his hands in his pockets doing nothing.

‘The most that I am able to accept is that he may well have said to you and your two friends that you should leave the area. I do not accept that there was anything aggressive in anything he did or said or how he said it.

‘What happened next is that you deliberately made a move to your left and launched yourself at Mr Patel, knocking him to the ground. He was completely defenceless and indeed did not even move before you struck him. The force of your attack is clearly shown on the CCTV inside the shop.

‘I accept that you didn’t intend to cause him really serious harm but you certainly intended to hit him very hard, and you did.

‘The assault was completely unprovoked and was directed at a victim who was defenceless because quite literally he did not see your attack coming.’

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 death. 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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