Jailed for a killer blow in supermarket queue

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The Independent Online

The actions of grandmother Antonette Richardson and boyfriend Tony Virasami led to the death of Kevin Tripp, who was attacked when mistaken for somebody else.

Virasamik, 38, was jailed for four years and Richardson, 37, who “egged him on”, for 18 months.

Sentencing Virasami at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said the jail term reflected the “revulsion and concern felt by Mr Tripp’s nearest and dearest”, and also the “shock and concern felt by the public at large”.

A jury decided in February that Richardson “egged on” powerfully-built Virasami in revenge for an earlier confrontation with a fellow Sainsbury’s shopper.

She was convicted of manslaughter, which Virasami admitted. Her trial heard that she was queuing outside the store’s cigarette kiosk in Merton, south-west London, when “foul-mouthed” Adam Prendergast accused her of “pushing in”.

In the “fierce” row that followed, he threatened to knock her out. “He got very aggressive. I didn’t say anything else to him. I was too frightened of his reaction,” she said.

Eventually, crying and upset, she rang Virasami, who was waiting for her in a car outside. He stormed in and demanded to know who was responsible.

As she indicated Mr Prendergast, he thought she was pointing at Mr Tripp, 57. He immediately marched over to him from behind, accused him of “messing with my wife”, and, without giving him a chance to reply, hit him.

The “almighty” force of what most witnesses described as an open-handed slap — one spoke of a “haymaker” — hurled him off his feet.

As he landed, his head hit the floor so hard his skull fractured, causing bleeding on the brain. He died later in hospital.

Despite their victim lying on the ground bloodied and unmoving — the scene graphically captured on CCTV — an apparently dissatisfied Richardson was overheard saying: “We need to find the right guy.”

The judge said Mr Tripp — who, the court heard, suffered from ME — was an “entirely innocent man”.

Mr Tripp’s partner, Josie James, said after the hearing: “It’s not long enough. They took Kevin’s life. The judge was pretty fair, but his hands were tied. I don’t think four years is enough.”

This article is from The Belfast Telegraph