‘One-man crimewave’ murdered London shopkeeper for just £100

Lizzie Dearden
Alex Gunn was found guilty of a spate of offences in March: Metropolitan Police

A “one-man crimewave” has been convicted of murdering a London shopkeeper for just £100.

Alex Gunn started a spree of theft and violence in March, burgling houses and stealing a car in north-west London, the Old Bailey heard.

The 31-year-old drug addict conducted reconnaissance on Marsh Food and Wine in Pinner, northwest London, before carrying out the robbery.

Armed with a large kitchen knife he entered newsagent wearing a balaclava in the early hours of 24 March.

Scotland Yard said he knew Ravi Katharkamar would be alone in the shop at the time.

CCTV footage from inside the shop showed Gunn remove the knife from his pocket before grabbing the 54-year-old from behind as he organised the morning’s newspapers.

Putting the knife to Mr Katharkamar's throat, he dragged him towards the till.

As the pair struggled, Gunn ripped the cash register from the counter and stabbed Mr Katharkamar twice in the chest.

The “warm and loving father and husband” was left to die alone on the shop floor, as Gunn fled to continue his crime spree.

Mr Katharkamar was found collapsed by a jogger who called police at 6am, but he was pronounced dead at the scene from shock and haemorrhage from the stab wounds.

A jogger discovered the victim collapsed and alerted emergency services, who pronounced him dead at the scene.

Gunn continued his crime spree after the murder, burgling two more homes and changing the car’s number plates to evade detection. But he was arrested five days later.

He initially claimed to have bought the Astra but items linking him to the crimes were found inside.

Describing Gunn as a “one-man crimewave”, prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones QC, said he had committed the crimes to fund his drug habit.

Mr Katharkamar's widow, who is disabled, said he had been “defenceless against a violent man who thought nothing of using a knife”.

Burglar Alex Gunn, 31, who has been found guilty of killing a hard-working shopkeeper for the sake of £100 in the till during a

In a statement read to the court, Vignarani Aiyathirai said she was haunted by the thought that her husband was “brutally stabbed for the £100 or so float from the till”.

She added: “I cannot bear the thought of Ravi being in pain and then dying there. I hate the fact he was alone, that I was not there to hold or comfort him, tend to his wounds or tell him I loved him and that all would be okay. No, he died alone with no-one around him.”

Describing her husband as her “best friend and soulmate”, she said: “He was kind, generous, hardworking, humorous and loving … I will never get over losing Ravi.”

Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe said: ”Mr Katharkamar and Gunn couldn't be more different. Ravi was a warm and loving father and husband. A man who worked long hours to support his young family and run his shop in the heart of the local community in Pinner.

Ravi Katharkamar was stabbed to death at his newsagents as he opened the shop on Sunday (Met Police handout)

"Gunn, on the other hand, is a career criminal who has spent much of his adult life preying on other people. He is an odious, vile and dangerous individual who I am pleased to say will now be in prison for a very long time.”

Devi Kharran, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This case has had a real impact on the local community - particularly those who knew Mr Katharkamar and were regular customers to his shop. I hope today's conviction provides the family and friends of Mr Katharkamar with some degree of comfort.“

Gunn had denied murder in the face of overwhelming evidence, but was found guilty of a string of offences. He was also convicted of four counts of burglary, two of theft from a motor vehicle, robbery, two counts of knife possession spanning from 5 to 29 March.

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