Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Shopkeeper killers jailed for life

Suppiah Tharmaseelan, 48, who was stabbed to death during a robbery in Kingstanding, Birmingham
Suppiah Tharmaseelan, 48, who was stabbed to death during a robbery in Kingstanding, Birmingham

Four men have been jailed for life for the brutal murder of a shopkeeper who was stabbed at his store in a robbery witnessed by his children.

Twins Ian and John Meenan, Anthony Bayliss and his half-brother Liam Ryan were given minimum terms of between 20 and 27 years for killing father-of-four Suppiah Tharmaseelan.

Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Justice Wyn Williams described the killing in the Kingstanding area of the city as a "mindless" attack on a vulnerable victim. A fifth defendant, getaway driver James Moore, was jailed for six years and nine months after admitting robbery but being cleared of murder.

Mr Tharmaseelan, 48, died after being stabbed, punched and kicked and eventually chased out of his store on the evening of November 27 last year.

Following a trial which ended last month, it emerged that one of the victim's children telephoned the police after they witnessed the attack via CCTV in another part of the shop premises.

During his sentencing remarks, the judge told the defendants: "One of the most tragic aspects of this case is that Mr Tharmaseelan's children were upstairs in the flat as these events were unfolding. It is not entirely clear how much they saw. Those poor children, or at least some of them, found their father dying immediately after the mindless violence to which he had been subjected."

Ian Meenan, who stabbed Mr Tharmaseelan in the chest with a kitchen knife, was given a minimum term of 27 years before he can be considered for release, while John Meenan will serve at least 24 years. Meanwhile, Ryan and Bayliss were given respective minimum terms of 21 and 20 years.

Ian and John Meenan, 27, 19-year-old Ryan, and Bayliss, 25, were found guilty of murder last month after CCTV footage of the offence was shown to jurors. The men, all from the Erdington area of Birmingham, had admitted robbery at a previous hearing but denied murder.

Ian Meenan, of Short Heath Road; John Meenan, of Camberley Grove; Ryan and Bayliss, both of Gretton Road, were given differing minimum terms because of their varying roles in the robbery.

Moore, 25, of Twickenham Road, Kingstanding, did not go into Mr Tharmaseelan's shop during the attempt to steal alcohol and cigarettes, which also saw a shop assistant punched and kicked.

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