Beds, Herts & Bucks

Shop worker denies murdering employer over £2,500 theft

A shop worker has admitted stealing £2,500 from a till but has denied killing his employer over it.

Thilak Mohan-Raj, 25, told Luton Crown Court he took the money from Vairamutha Thiyagarajah's Bedford shop to repay his parents.

He said he had pushed the 56-year-old, but that his injuries, described in court as "catastrophic", were caused when he hit his head on a door frame.

Mr Mohan-Raj, of Bedford, has denied murdering the 56-year-old.

Mr Thiyagarajah died in hospital without regaining consciousness on 11 April, four days after the alleged attack.

Mr Mohan-Raj told the court he had not kicked or stamped on Mr Thiyagarajah's head or battered him with a heavy object.

The hotel management student said he tried to help the victim until paramedics arrived.

'Panicking'

He said he had to take the £2,500 to repay money his parents had lent him to go to college, some of which had come from them pawning their gold jewellery.

He said the college had closed down and he lost all his money.

The 25-year-old told the court that on 7 April, Mr Thiyagarajah had got "a little angry" over him not cleaning an ice cream fridge.

After the argument, Mr Thiyagarajah, who lived above the shop, had gone upstairs for a break, at which Mr Mohan-Raj said he had taken the money.

Later, the shop owner challenged him over the missing money, he said.

He said Mr Thiyagarajah had shouted "did you take my money?"

"I said I had not but I was panicking [and] then he pushed me backwards, he was in a very bad temper.

"He clenched his fist and came towards me to hit me.

"I could have armed myself with a knife, but I didn't. I pushed him and he hit his head on the wall."

Mr Mohan-Raj said Mr Thiyagarajah had come towards him "five, six or seven times" and the last time he pushed him back, the shop owner hit his head again and fell face down.

The case continues.

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