Shop worker convicted of shop keepers's murder - Bedford

10/10/2013

Shop worker Thilak Mohan-Raj was today, Thursday, 10 October 2013, found guilty at Luton Crown Court of murdering his boss after he was caught stealing the £2500 takings from a convenience store in Bedford.

The jury decided Mohan-Raj, aged 25, who had worked at the MK Food and Wine shop in Elstow Road for only a few days, had murdered the shop's owner Vairamuthu Thiyagarajah in April 2013.

The court had heard how Sri Lankan-born Mr Thiyagarajah, aged 56, lived in the flat above the shop with three other men, including the offender, who all worked at the shop.  The shop's takings had been stolen by Mohan-Raj and as his deceit was uncovered by his employer, he then caused massive head injuries to Mr Thiyagarajah by repeatedly hitting him over the head with a heavy object.

Fellow Sri Lankan, Mohan-Raj originally claimed he had been asleep at the time of the incident and that he'd found Mr Thiyagarajah injured in the flat and assumed he'd fallen over. He admitted in Court that he had stolen the money and that in the ensuing argument with the victim, had pushed him over several times in an effort to "defend himself."

Mr Thiyagarajah was taken by ambulance to Addenbrookes hospital on Sunday, 07 April, but died four days later on Thursday, 11 April having never regained consciousness. A post mortem showed his death was caused by being hit on the back of the head several times with a heavy object, after which he fell to the floor and further blows were delivered when he was lying on the floor, including kicks to the face.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the tragic murder of Mr Thiyagarajah by a trusted employee.

"This case represents a tragedy for the family of Mr Thiyagarajah. The victim, who was married with children and grandchildren, was brutally murdered in an unprovoked attack in the flat above his shop.  His family and friends have been devastated by his untimely death.

"I would like to pay tribute to Mr Thiyagarajah's family for their wholehearted support of this investigation and the dignity they displayed while hearing the horrific details of how Mr Thiyagarajah was killed.

"As a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved. I hope that today's conviction will at least give them a small sense that justice has been done.

"Mohan-Raj will be sentenced tomorrow. However, no matter what the sentence is, I acknowledge that nothing can make up for the loss of Mr Thiyagarajah. Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this time."

Detective Inspector Liz Mead, from the Major Crime Unit, said Mr Thiyagarajah was a much-loved father and grandfather, who was well-known in the Elstow Road area through working in the shop for many years.

"I'm pleased that the jury have arrived at this verdict today," said Detective Inspector Mead.

"This was a totally unprovoked attack on a defenceless and innocent man, just doing his job and working hard in his family business. Mr Thiyagarajah was a popular figure within the community and he had a reputation for looking after his family, friends and employees. The irony of the situation is that the man who murdered him had been employed on recommendation from a friend. His sudden and violent death leaves a family with many unfulfilled dreams.

"Mr Thiyagarajah trusted Mohan-Raj to work in the shop and Mohan-Raj repaid his kindness by stealing from him and then killing him when his deceit was discovered. This was not an accident or a situation where reasonable self-defence had unforeseen consequences - Mohan-Raj deliberately unleashed terrible and unprovoked violence on an older man to silence him about the theft. I hope Mr Thiyagarajah's family are able to take something from today while they continue to rebuild their lives. They have been utterly devastated by his loss and his value to the wider community is demonstrated by the amount of people who attended his funeral which numbered over 1000."

Mohan-Raj will be sentenced at Luton Crown Court, tomorrow, Friday, 11 October 2013.