Three held over shopkeeper's murder

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The Independent Online

Three teenagers were arrested today in connection with the murder of a shopkeeper who died after he was attacked during a robbery at his store.

West Yorkshire Police said two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old were detained over the death of Gurmail Singh, 63, in Huddersfield, at the weekend.

Mr Singh suffered serious head injuries at his shop in the Cowcliffe area of the town on Saturday evening - probably inflicted by a hammer - and died in hospital early on Sunday morning.

Speaking outside the shop, Detective Superintendent Dave Pervin stressed he still needed information from the public.

He said those arrested had been detained in connection with both the murder of father-of-three Mr Singh and an earlier incident at his shop a week ago today.

Police have already said the incident last Thursday involved Mr Singh attempting to prevent youths stealing goods from his store.

Mr Pervin said: "My appeal for information in this investigation stands and it is imperative that we still receive information from the public into the incident.

"Anyone who has any information or suspicions that will assist the investigation should continue to contact the police and share that information."

The detective made a direct appeal to those involved in the attack on Mr Singh.

He said: "They know who they are. The spotlight is already directly upon them and I call on them to do the right thing and hand themselves in now before we knock at their door and arrest them."

Mr Pervin also asked local people to come forward if they have CCTV systems operating in the area.

He said the arrests were made today by police "acting on information coming in to detectives".

He added that the three people in custody were all from Huddersfield. They are currently undergoing forensic examination before they are questioned.

Mr Pervin said there had been a "tremendous public response" to police appeals for help.

Mr Singh was an extremely well-respected shopkeeper who many have described as a pillar of the community.

Police said he was struck at least nine times in the attack, probably with a hammer.

Detectives have been looking for four men in their early 20s or late teens.

Two were seen leaving the shop just before the alarm was raised and two more were trapped for some time in the store by witnesses from a nearby pub who became suspicious that a robbery was in progress.

These two suspects were brought to the floor by witnesses as they fled but both managed to escape.

Today, forensic teams were continuing to work in the small convenience store where the attack took place.

The shop is tucked away in a quiet area of Huddersfield which local people say is not affected by high levels of crime.

More than 30 bunches of flowers have been laid outside Mr Singh's home, which is just a short distance from his store.

One of the tributes among the bouquets read: "In memory of a gentle gentleman."

Another said: "A friend of the community."

One, apparently written by a young child and accompanied by a youngster's picture, read: "You were a nice man. Very kind all the time. Helpful. Shouldn't have been killed." The A4 tribute finished: "You had a nice shop."

Customers, friends and community leaders have spoken of Mr Singh's hard work and his kindness towards people living in the area.

He opened his store from 6am to 9pm, seven days a week - often delivering papers before the doors opened.

Police said Mr Singh came to the UK in 1963 and he leaves a wife, two adult sons and a daughter. He celebrated his 63rd birthday on Friday.