Thilak Mohan-Raj guilty of Vairamuthu Thiyagarajah murder
A shop worker has been found guilty of beating his boss to death after he was challenged over the theft of £2,500 in takings.
Thilak Mohan-Raj, 25, had worked and lived at MK Food and Wine in Elstow Road in Bedford for only a few days when he murdered owner Vairamuthu Thiyagarajah, 56, on 7 April.
At Luton Crown Court, he had admitted stealing the money but had denied murder.
He is due to be sentenced on Friday.
The court had heard that the Sri Lankan-born shop owner lived in the flat above the premises with three men who worked at the shop, including Mohan-Raj.
Mr Thiyagarajah confronted Mohan-Raj after finding the 25-year-old had taken the day's takings from a drawer in his locked bedroom and put them in his own room.
Faced with the accusation, Mohan-Raj repeatedly struck the older man several times over the head with a heavy object.
Mr Thiyagarajah, who was known affectionately as Appa, died in hospital four days later.
A post-mortem examination showed further blows were delivered, including kicks to the face, when Mr Thiyagarajah was on the floor.
Mohan-Raj, who was also from Sri Lanka, had claimed he had been asleep and that he had found his injured employer and assumed he had fallen over.
He admitted pushing the the older man around in an effort to "defend himself" during an argument about the money.
Speaking after the trial, Det Insp Liz Mead said Mr Thiyagarajah had been "a popular figure within the community and he had a reputation for looking after his family, friends and employees".
"The irony of the situation is that the man who murdered him had been employed on recommendation from a friend."
She said the attack on Mr Thiyagarajah had not been "an accident or a situation where reasonable self-defence had unforeseen consequences".
"Mohan-Raj deliberately unleashed terrible and unprovoked violence on an older man to silence him about the theft."
In a statement, the Thiyagarajah family said sitting through the trial had "felt like being in a torture chamber".
"Appa was a loveable person who worked very hard to get where he did in his life and believed that you will never achieve anything in life without hard work.
"He was adored by whoever he met, held in the very highest regard and respected widely."