Two guilty of shopkeeper murder

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Two men were today found guilty of battering a shopkeeper to death with wine bottles from his own shelves during a botched robbery.

Gurmail Singh, 63, died when he tried to stop youths robbing his shop in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in February.

A jury of nine women and three men found Muawaz Khalid, 20, and Nabeel Shafi, 18, guilty of murder following a six week trial at Bradford Crown Court.

Three other men, Umare Aslam, 20, Shoaib Khan, 18, and Rehman Afzal, 18, were cleared of murder.

Khalid and Aslam were also convicted of robbery. Khan was cleared of the robbery charge.

Afzal and Shafi pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to the charge of robbing Mr Singh.

The jury was told that Khan had admitted a charge of assisting an offender.

Mr Justice Henriques adjourned sentencing until November 16 so pre-sentence reports could be carried out.

According to prosecutors at Bradford Crown Court, Mr Singh was attacked as he resisted attempts to take cash, cigarettes, alcohol and sweets from his convenience store in the Cowcliffe area of the town.

The jury was told he died as a result of a "robbery gone wrong" when he "did not meekly hand over his property, his hard-earned money".

The court heard smokers outside the pub opposite the shop realised something was wrong when they saw two men run from the scene.

One man trapped the remaining two members of the gang inside by holding the door shut but they got out of a back door after desperate attempts to smash their way out of the front, prosecutors said.

Both these suspects were tackled by other members of the public but managed to free themselves and get away, the court was told.

The court was told Mr Singh was attacked at about 8.30pm on February 20 and died the following day. He had been hit at least seven times with a heavy object.

The prosecution alleged that four of the defendants - Aslam, Khalid, Shafi and Afzal - went into the store to rob Mr Singh.

Adrian Waterman QC, prosecuting, told the jury it was Afzal and Aslam who ran from the shop first. It was Shafi and Khalid who got out of the back and were tackled by members of the public outside, he said.

Khan was not in the shop because he could not fit in the taxi which took the others, Mr Waterman said.

Aslam, of Coniston Avenue, Dalton, Huddersfield; Khalid, of Blackmoorfoot Road, Huddersfield; Khan, of Calton Street, Hillhouse, Huddersfield; Shafi, of Park Hill, Bradley, Huddersfield; and Afzal, of Jacinth Court, Fartown, Huddersfield, all denied murder.

Khalid, Khan and Aslam also denied robbery.

Khan denied taking part in the planning of the robbery and said he did not know the others were going to the convenience store in Cowcliffe Hill Road.

The other four defendants all denied taking part in the fatal attack on Mr Singh.

The court heard the shopkeeper came to England from India in 1963 and raised his family in Huddersfield.

Mr Singh bought the Cowcliffe shop about five years ago.