East Ham father...killed for his mobile phone

A robber who killed a father-of-four for his mobile phone outside a 24-hour shop has been jailed for ten years. Giovanni Castro, 20, was caught on CCTV flooring 40 year-old Sellathurai Easwaran with a single punch in an unprovoked attack.

He and his two friends Christian Bustillos, 23, and Daniel Torres, 19, then rifled through the garage attendant’s pockets for his Samsung handset before running off.

Mr Easwaran, a part-time garage attendant, was taken to hospital but was discharged without treatment or a brain scan. He was found dead in his bed by his wife the next day, after suffering a fractured skull and brain damage.

Castro, who had carried out a robbery opposite the same store in East Ham, east London, two years earlier, was convicted of manslaughter and robbery in May.

Bustillos, who has two previous convictions for robbery, and Torres were cleared of responsibility for the death but convicted of robbery. Bustillos was jailed for seven years Torres for six years.

Judge Michael Mettyear said: “I have no doubt you regarded Mr Easwaran as easy prey. In order to facilitate this robbery, you Castro delivered a very heavy punch to his face which fractured his jaw and sent him to the ground where his head struck the pavement. You bear the main culpability for what happened. You delivered a vicious and unnecessary blow to a vulnerable man.

“Within moments of him hitting the ground all three of you were upon him looking what you might take from him. In fact the only thing that was taken was a mobile phone.’

Most Read

Relatives of the three men, all Ecuadoreans, sobbed loudly as they were taken down to the cells to start their sentences.

The Old Bailey heard Mr Easwaran’s widow and children have been left ‘destitute’ by the killing.

Kavitha Easwaran said in a victim impact statement: ‘My husband looked after the entire needs of the family including money for food, clothing and housing. My husband did the shopping, paid the rent, phone bills. My husband’s death left me completely shattered. Myself and my children did not know anything else except the house and schools and were entirely dependent on my husband.’

Mr Easwaran, who had three daughters aged five, 11 and 12, and a son aged 10, had come to the UK with his family from Germany in 2008.

At around 2am on November 6 last year he was seen on CCTV walking drunkenly down the middle of the road towards the Akgul Foodstore at 347 Barking Road.

CCTV footage appears to show Castro ‘frisking’ the victim and the pair exchanging words outside the shop.

Mr Easwaran went in to buy alcohol and was then escorted out by the shopkeeper.

“You see Mr Easwaran come out and Castro punching him with what in boxing is called an uppercut and knocking him to the floor,” said prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC. “The whole incident from the time Mr Easwaran arrived at the shop to the time the three defendants walked away lasted four minutes. The actual assault itself was less than a minute.A group of police officers happened to be visiting the kebab shop opposite the store and thought Mr Easwaran was simply drunk.”

The victim was taken to Newham General Hospital at 3.43am and explained he had been attacked but fractures to his jaw and the base of his skull were not spotted on frontal facial x-rays.

He was then discharged and Mr Easwaran continued drinking before returning home to St Winefride’s Avenue, Manor Park, some time before 5.30pm.

His wife heard him “blabbering” that evening but the next morning, November 7, found him lying face down in bed.

A post mortem revealed he had suffered injury to his brain as well as fractures to the base of his skull, jaw and eye socket.

The judge said that the failure of Mr Easwaran to take medication for his Addison’s disease before and after the attack had also contributed to the death.

Judge Mettyear added: “It is right to say that he was released from hospital at a time when he was known to be an Addison’s disease patient, without an appropriate head scan being taken or without proper checks being made of the medication he was taking.”

Detectives were able to trace Castro because he had given the shopkeeper his number to pass on to his daughter.

The investigation also revealed Castro had given the victim’s mobile phone, a black and silver Samsung, to a friend.

Castro, of Keppel Road, East Ham, Torres, of Percy Road, Canning Town, and Bustillos, of Khartoum Road, Plaistow, , had each denied murder and robbery.

They were cleared of murder on the judge’s direction. Bustillos and Torres were cleared of manslaughter by the jury.