Couple found guilty of death in supermarket queue

CCTV shows father being punched in face after woman told boyfriend to attack him
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The Independent Online

Police have released harrowing CCTV pictures of the moment an innocent shopper was fatally punched in the face following a row over queue jumping.

Kevin Tripp died when Antonette Richardson directed her violent boyfriend, Tony Virasami, to attack him after mistakenly thinking he was the person who minutes earlier had jumped ahead of her in a queue.

The innocent 57-year-old father of one had been shopping in a supermarket in Merton, south-west London, when Richardson pointed him out to her boyfriend who wrongly accused him of queue jumping before hitting him in the face.

Mr Tripp fell to the floor instantly with a fractured skull and died in hospital days later. Both Richardson and Virasami now face lengthy jail sentences after being found guilty of manslaughter yesterday.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court decided that Richardson, 37, a heroin-addicted grandmother, incited her boyfriend to carry out the killing after calling him on his mobile phone to confront a man who had jumped ahead of her in the queue at Sainsbury's. Virasami had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at a previous hearing.

The court was shown CCTV footage which revealed how Virasami, a 38-year-old with a string of previous convictions, met his girlfriend inside a nearby shopping centre nearby before walking back towards Sainsbury's.

As the pair reached the top of an escalator Richardson mistakenly pointed out Mr Tripp and was heard telling her boyfriend: "That's him".

In front of a group of security guards Virasami then walked up to Mr Tripp, accused him of "messing with my wife" and attacked him causing the fatal injuries. Realising that her boyfriend had targeted the wrong man Richardson then pointed out the intended victim, 19-year-old Adam Prendergast, who Virasami then gave chase to shouting, "We need to find the right guy."

He was eventually stopped by security staff and arrested but Richardson left the supermarket undetected. She was arrested the following day at her home in Catford, south London. As the guilty verdict was read out yesterday there were cries of relief from Mr Tripp's relatives. In emotional scenes outside the courthouse Mr Tripp's partner Josie James, who is also the mother of his five-year-old daughter Rianna, called for the "longest possible sentence" for the killers.

Mr Tripp's sister Gillian said neither Richardson nor Virasami had shown any remorse throughout the trial. "We do not understand how someone would get so angry over something like queue jumping that they can hit someone and cause their death," she said. "That neither has shown signs of remorse in court, even smiling at us during a previous hearing, makes it even harder to deal with and means we can never forgive them."

In a statement released through the police yesterday Ms James described how she had first met her partner on a blind date in 1995 and spoke of how he had brought up their daughter Rianna while battling with ME.

"When I look across the room, Kevin isn't there and I find life so hard without him," she said. "He only went to the supermarket, he didn't have cancer or a heart attack, he was standing in a queue and a stranger punched him." She added: "One of the last images my Rianna and I have of Kev is in the hospital on apparatus to keep him alive, bruised, yellow and so very cold."

Detective Inspector Bob Campany, from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, welcomed Richardson's conviction. "It was [Richardson's] clear intention that [Virasami] gain revenge for her and she made no effort to calm him down, even though it was clear that Virasami was likely to assault someone," he said. "Virasami's reckless actions represent a spectacular overreaction." The pair will be sentenced at a later date.