THE savage assault on Gurmail Singh may have been a premeditated revenge attack by thugs thwarted in previous raids on his corner shop.
The Examiner understands police are investigating the theory the killer gang went to Cowcliffe Convenience Stores on Saturday night with the intention of attacking the 63-year-old grandfather.
Detectives have not ruled out the possibility Mr Singh was killed after he tried to stop the hooded teenagers robbing his premises, on Cowcliffe Hill Road.
But the idea the assault was premeditated was reinforced by the results of the post mortem yesterday.
It revealed Mr Singh had been bludgeoned at least nine times, probably with a hammer.
Bruises on his hands indicated he had continued to be beaten even as he tried to stave off the brutal attack.
Some of the blows would have been administered while he lay prone.
Mr Singh was found in a pool of blood in the shop by a number of locals who had tried to catch the killers.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said he died of serious head injuries.
“It has been ascertained that the cause of death was severe head injuries which have been inflicted by repeated and multiple forceful blows from a heavy blunt instrument that is likely to be a hammer,” he said.
“This has resulted in serious injury to the top and back of the head.
“Also present were bruising injuries to his hands that indicate that Mr Singh attempted to defend himself.”
Saturday’s attack came two days after a gang had raided the shop and tried to steal items from Mr Singh.
A family friend told the Examiner there had been two similar incidents in the last six months.
Detectives are now desperately trying to gather clues, including forensic evidence from the shop and nearby streets. Members of the community are hoping to set up a reward for anyone with key information that will help convict the killers.
A mobile police station has been set up on the scene to encourage people to report information.
Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan and fellow councillor Mohan Sokhal visited the family, who live opposite the shop, yesterday.
Mr Khan said: “It is impossible to put into words how they are feeling.
“They are finding it difficult to understand why this would happen to their father in this small shop in Cowcliffe – a safe area with a low crime rate.
“They can’t understand why their dad would have been the victim. The younger ones are very angry.”
Mr Khan’s family owned a shop on Bradford Road in Fartown for 20 years.
He said shopkeepers learned to deal with trouble – but the scale of the attack on Mr Singh was sickening.
“Sometimes it’s difficult dealing with the public, especially on a night if they are rowdy and wanting to start trouble. You accept that.” he said.
“But when you hear that Gurmail was hit repeatedly, for the sake of a few cigarettes and money, it makes you sick.
“The level of violence was totally disproportionate.”
He said the family had been overwhelmed by the reaction from the local community.
“They are touched that so many people have shown such support,” he said.
He added: “I would appeal to people to come forward with information to help track down these evil individuals.”
Anyone with information should call 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.