Shammi Atwal manslaughter trial: Six guilty over Barking businessman's death
PUBLISHED: 15:32 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 18:23 14 May 2014
Six members of an armed gang who raided a Barking cash and carry before pushing its owner under a lorry have this afternoon been found guilty of manslaughter.
Shammi Atwal chased after the group that had entered his Glenn & Co shop in River Road, Barking, with sledgehammers and metal bars.
During a struggle with one robber he was pushed under the wheels of a HGV and killed.
Vidmantas Gorskoves, 26, of Grange Road, Plaistow; Aurimas Diliunas, 27, of no fixed address; Deibidas Sumskas, 25, of Otley Road, Canning Town; Edgaras Balezantis, 25, of Tollgate Road, Beckton; Reiniks Kivers, 29, of no fixed address; and Farhan Sheikh, 39, of Thornhill Gardens, Barking, were all convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Mr Atwal, of Chigwell, leaves his wife Damanjeet Kaur.
In a statement today Mrs Kaur said: “Shammi was the most loving husband and father. Since that Monday I don’t know how to cope or live anymore. My life took a 360-degree turn. We have lost the children’s father, my husband, and it is very hard for me and the children.
“This is something we will live with for the rest of our lives. I will see my kids grow up without their dad and I am finding that very hard to cope with.
“There are no words to express how we are feeling – we are just living.
“We miss him all the time and always will.”
Det Ch Insp Neale Baldock said: “This was a violent robbery that went terribly wrong and resulted in Mr Atwal losing his life. He died while trying to defend his livelihood and these callous men have showed no remorse for their actions.
“I hope today’s conviction provides Mr Atwal’s family with some small measure of solace and will allow them to now move forward.”
The court heard how on Monday, October 14, 2013, at about 9.20am a black BMW X5 parked opposite Mr Atwal’s cash and carry business Glenn & Co, in River Road, Barking.
The vehicle remained outside the premises and waited for the security dogs to be taken for their daily walk before leaving moments later.
At about 10.15 Mr Atwal and Mrs Kaur arrived at the business. They were inside the premises for a short before the BMW 5 Series entered the compound and the six men got out, storming their way inside the cash and carry.
Armed with an array of weapons including sledgehammers and metal bars the gang smashed their way through several doors charging at the cashiers as they threatened them and demanded they hand over any cash.
Mrs Kaur was sitting in her office at the time of the robbery and watched as the six men entered the premises, with a number of them then entering her office. One of the gang members grabbed her by her hair and threatened her with a metal rod. A second man took Mrs Kaur’s handbag from the windowsill, which contained a number of items including £1,000 in cash.
A third man entered the office and demanded to know where the money was kept. After the three had searched the office for any further cash they left.
Mr Atwal and a number of his staff who were working in officers situated in portacabins behind the warehouse were alerted to the robbery on hearing shouts for help from customers within the premises.
Mr Atwal and his staff left the portacabin and rushed into the main warehouse entrance. As Mr Atwal and his staff reached the warehouse, the gang came running out with one of them still in possession of Mrs Atwal’s handbag and they made their way to the main gate.
A Glenn & Co delivery driver approached one of the fleeing robbers and in an attempt to apprehend him he punched him in his torso. This failed to stop him and the robber made his escape along with the others along River Road.
Mr Atwal pursued the robbers and managed to grab hold of one of them. A struggle ensued that caused the robber to push Mr Atwal, who fell into the road and into the path of an oncoming lorry, which was unable to stop in time.
Police and the London Ambulance Service were called and while awaiting their arrival Mr Atwal was tended to by his distraught wife and members of his staff. Upon arrival of the emergency services Mr Atwal was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination took place on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 at Queens Hospital and gave the cause of death as multiple injuries as a result of being run over by the lorry.
As the gang made good their escape they discarded a number of their weapons and gloves along their escape route before being picked up in the getaway vehicle in Ratford Way. The items, which had been discarded close to the scene and in a bin, were later recovered by police and sent off for forensic examination.
The gloves were later forensically linked to Gorskoves, Diliunas and Kivers.
While conducting their investigation detectives established that on Sunday, October 13, Sheikh attended the Wickes DIY store in Hertford Road, Barking. There he purchased a sledgehammer and a fencing hammer.
On the day of the robbery Sheikh was accompanied by Balezantis to B&Q in Beckton. Both were captured on CCTV entering the store where Sheikh purchased a pair of gloves. The two were then seen leaving the store a short while later.
Further investigations revealed the BMW 5 series used in the robbery belonged to Sheikh and on the day of the incident had stolen registration plates which had been taken from a vehicle outside residential property overnight between October 13 and October 14.
Gorskoves and Diliunas were arrested on Friday, October 18, and both charged the following day. Sheikh was arrested on Tuesday, October 22 and charged the following day. Kivers was arrested on November 18 and charged on the same day.
Sumskas was arrested on October 23 and Balezantis on December 10. Both were bailed pending further enquiries and later charged on February 6, this year.