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Wife of killed Barking businessman Shammi Atwal ‘feared for her life’, court hears

16:29 09 April 2014

Shammi Atwal

Shammi Atwal

Archant

The wife of a shop owner killed following an armed robbery also “feared for her life” during the violent raid, a court heard this afternoon.

Police at the scene of Mr Atwal's death in October (pic: Ellie Hoskins)Police at the scene of Mr Atwal's death in October (pic: Ellie Hoskins)

Damanjeet Kaur worked at Glenn & Co cash and carry with her husband, also the store’s owner, Shammi Atwal, jurors at the Old Bailey heard.

Mother Mrs Kaur was in her office inside the warehouse of the premises in River Road, Barking, when a gang of six men armed with sledgehammers and metal bars stormed in, the court was told.

Prosecutor David Howker QC said she tried to shut her office door but wasn’t quick enough.

He said: “One of the men grabbed her by her hair and threatened her with a metal bar.

“As you can imagine she was terrified.

“She thought she was going to to be killed.”

The gang struck after two guard dogs, who patrol the area throughout the day, had been taken for a walk.

Mr Howker said the gang, led by Devidas Sumskas, had been phoning and texting each other prior to the robbery.

He claimed a BMW parked across the road from the cash and carry prior to the alleged robbery was used by Sumskas and Farhan Sheikh to watch for the opportune moment to carry it out.

During the raid on October 14, last year, the alleged robbers used their weapons to bash in doors and were heard shouting “where’s the money?”, the court heard.

Mr Howker said: “Mrs Kaur, in her frightened panic, simply said the money was in her handbag.”

He said her bag contained £1,000 collected from a customer.

Her husband Mr Atwal was one of the dozen or so workers at the store who gave chase after the alleged robbers fled the warehouse building.

Witnesses said they saw him fall after he was pushed by one of the men.

He was hit by a lorry travelling between 15 and 20mph.

Me Howker said the driver had been briefly distracted by seeing a number of people running.

He stopped after hearing people shouting at him.

It was only when he got out of his cab that he realised he had run over Mr Atwal, who was “lying on the floor in obvious pain” according to Mr Howker.

Didmantas Gonskoves, 26, of Grange Road, Plaistow, and 27-year-old Aurimas Diliunas, of no fixed abode, are in the dock alongside 25-year-old Deividas Sumskas, of Otley Road, Canning Town, and Edgaras Balezantis, also 25, of Tollgate Road, Beckton on charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.

Farhan Sheikh, 39, of Thornhill Gardens, Barking, appears on a charge of conspiracy to rob while Reiniks Kivers, 29, of no fixed abode, has been charged with robbery and manslaughter.

They all deny all the charges.

The trial continues.

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