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Schoolboy is guilty of killing Leicester shop worker Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja


A teenager has been found guilty of the manslaughter of 41-year-old father-of-two Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja.

A jury at Derby Crown Court returned their verdict on the 15-year-old from Leicester yesterday, following a five-day trial.

The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, had denied manslaughter, claiming he punched Mr Nimalaraja in self-defence.

The shopkeeper – known as Nimal – fell backwards and hit his head on a kerb after a confrontation with a gang of youths at Leicester Stores, in Gipsy Lane, Northfields, Leicester.

He died in hospital a week later.

Mr Nimalaraja, 41, (pictured), lived nearby in Essex Road with wife Mathanika and children Diluxshan and Leyana. He was a kitchen assistant at Barnsdale Hall Hotel, Rutland, as well as working at the shop.

On Monday, a 14-year-old pleaded guilty to affray in connection with the incident. He and the 15-year-old will be sentenced on January 11.

Detective Superintendent Matt Hewson, who led the investigation, said: "The positive outcome is justice for Nimal and justice for his family left behind.

"I hope the family can now begin to rebuild their lives, moving on from the tragedy.

"This is an extremely sad case, where something that started from the misbehaviour of a group of teenagers ended up with the loss of a much-loved husband and father.

"This goes to show what damage one punch can do. Not only has this assault devastated a family, it has changed the lives of the defendants for ever."

Judge John Burgess thanked the jury and said: "This will be a very difficult case to sentence."

The confrontation which led to Mr Nimalaraja's death happened on Saturday, June 9.

Between 10.30pm and 11pm, a group of youths entered the shop. Two were asked to leave for shouting and play-fighting.

At 11pm, when Mr Nimalaraja and his friend were closing up, one youth shouted to him from across the street, demanding a fight.

Mr Nimalaraja approached the group, holding a wooden board, and was punched in the face by the 15-year-old. The impact as his head hit the ground caused him critical injuries.

The court heard before losing consciousness he opened his eyes and called "amma, amma" – the Tamil for mother.

He was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary and later transferred to the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, where he died on June 16.

A number of arrests were made and the two youths were charged in July.

Hundreds of members of the Tamil community from around the world travelled to Leicester to attend Mr Nimalaraja's funeral service, held in Rushey Mead.

Schoolboy is guilty of killing Leicester shop worker Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja

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