A teenager who attacked and killed a family man outside his Mill Hill shop after he refused to sell cigarette papers to him and his friends has been found guilty of manslaughter.
The 16-year-old boy from Brent was found guilty at the Old Bailey of the manslaughter of Vijaykumar Patel on Monday, 9 July.
He will be sentenced on Friday, 7 September.
An investigation was launched after officers were called at about 23:45hrs on Saturday, 6 January by the London Ambulance Service to reports of a man who had been assaulted and injured on The Broadway, NW7.
Vijaykumar Patel, 49, from the Colindale area was taken to a central London hospital for treatment but died during the evening of Monday, 8 January.
Detectives found that Vijaykumar had been at work in the shop on the evening of Saturday, 6 January. Three teenage boys came into the shop 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, but did not require hospital treatment.
A post-mortem examination held at Northwick Park Hospital Mortuary on Thursday, 11 January 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 Monday, 8 January. The youth refused to cooperate with police and answered “no comment” to even the most basic questions put to him.
Two boys – [B] aged 16 and [C] aged 15 – were arrested after they attended a central London police station on the evening of Wednesday, 10 January. They were subsequently bailed.
The 16-year-old [B] 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 [C] was released with no further action on all matters on Friday, 19 January.
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 killing. 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.”