A TEENAGER who robbed shopkeeper Gurmail Singh two days before he was brutally murdered was starting a custodial sentence today.
The 17-year-old – who cannot be named because of his age – admitted raiding Cowcliffe Convenience Stores for cigarettes and £30 on February 18.
The robbery took place two days before 63-year-old Mr Singh was bludgeoned to death with a hammer at his store.
Yesterday, magistrates at Huddersfield Youth Court sentenced the Lindley teenager to a six-month detention and training order.
He will serve three months behind bars and the remaining three months in the community.
The court heard how the baby-faced youth – and an accomplice – disguised their faces with scarves and had their hoods up as they entered Mr Singh’s store on the evening of February 18.
Solicitor Mark Brookes – defending the teenager – described how the robbery took place.
He said: “He and another go into that shop in Cowcliffe. The shop is managed by one person – Mr Singh – and he is the only person.
“His friend attempts to take cash from the open till. That was a fruitless attempt because the till falls to the floor.
“The defendant’s friend then becomes involved in a struggle with Mr Singh.
“The defendant leans over the counter and takes cigarettes from behind the counter.
“They are then used by the defendant and friend. I am told approximately £30 was also taken.”
Ashraf Mohammad, prosecuting, told the court how Mr Singh was struck by the defendant’s friend in the struggle, knocking the turban he was wearing to the floor.
The shopkeeper reported the robbery to police at 7.46pm that night.
Mr Mohammad said: “He reported that two males wearing gloves and black hooded jackets had been in the store and fought him before stealing cigarettes and making off.”
Chairman of the bench Eileen Marchant said the seriousness of the offence called for a custodial sentence.
“It was pre-meditated, you planned it,’’ she said. “It was a group action and you admitted that you were the ringleader.
“You did not co-operate with the police. It was no comment and you did not give the name of your accomplice.
“You were disguised and the shopkeeper was alone and vulnerable.
“He was merely trying to serve the public.”
The teenager was also in breach of a conditional discharge he had been given in November 2009 for falsely posing as a charity collector in Mirfield.
Previously, the court had heard how the defendant had been studying A-Levels at Mirfield Free Grammar before the incident.
Fraught family relations had contributed to his problems, it was claimed.
His solicitor Mr Brookes added: “He was a young man of some potential but somewhere along the line that potential seems to have been misplaced.”
Before sentencing, the youth was given the chance to address the court.
He said: “I made a big mistake when I did this thing and I can’t change what I did. But I can change the future, if you know what I mean.”
Another 17-year-old was arrested in connection with the February 18 robbery. He has since been released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Muawaz Khalid, 20, Umare Aslam, 20, and three 17-year-old boys who cannot be named, have already appeared in court charged with the murder of Mr Singh and robbery.
All five are currently awaiting trial.