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Shopkeeper 'battered with bottles'

A shopkeeper was battered to death in his own store as he tried to protect his "hard-earned money" from a gang of robbers, a jury has been told.

Gurmail Singh, 63, was beaten over the head with bottles of wine taken from his own shelves as he tried to stop four young men taking cash, cigarettes, alcohol and sweets from his shop in the Cowcliffe area of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on February 20.

Prosecutor Adrian Waterman QC told Bradford Crown Court: "Gurmail Singh did not meekly hand over his property, his hard earned money."

He continued: "When he resisted the robbers they used serious violence on him, grabbing the nearest weapon to hand, which happened to be bottles of wine he sold in the shop. He was hit on the head. It was that which caused his death."

Mr Waterman told the jury of nine woman and three men: "This was a robbery gone wrong."

The prosecutor was opening the case on the first day of the trial of Umare Aslam, 20, Muawaz Khalid, 20, Shoaib Khan, 18, Nabeel Shafi, 18, and Rehman Afzal, 18. He said it was the prosecution case that four of the defendants - Aslam, Khalid, Shafi and Afzal - went into the store to rob Mr Singh.

He said Khan was not in the shop because he could not fit in the taxi which took the others. But Mr Waterman told the jury: "It is the crown's case that each of these defendants was at the very least involved in a joint enterprise. To put it in more colloquial terms, they were in it together and each was responsible, criminally, for his death."

All five defendants deny murder. Khalid, Khan and Aslam also deny robbery. Aslam, of Coniston Avenue, Dalton, Huddersfield; Khalid, of Blackmoorfoot Road, Huddersfield; Khan, of Calton Street, Hillhouse, Huddersfield; Shafi, of Park Hill, Bradley, Huddersfield; and Afzal, of Jacinth Court, Fartown, Huddersfield, sat in the dock listening to the prosecution opening separated by security officers.

The court was told Mr Singh was attacked at about 8.30pm on February 20 and died the following day. The court heard how there had never been a robbery at the shop until two days before the incident which led to his death.

Mr Waterman said on this occasion he fought back against two robbers and suffered minor injuries. He said there was no connection between the defendants in the murder trial and the robbery on February 18, but he told the jury they "must have known" about it.


From Belfast Telegraph