Father's poignant last words after attack outside shop in Northfields, Leicester
A shop assistant who died after a confrontation with a group of teenagers opened his eyes and called for his mother before losing consciousness in the road.
Father-of-two Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja hit his head on the kerb when he fell backwards after being punched, Derby Crown Court was told yesterday.
A witness told the court Mr Nimalaraja called out "amma, amma" – the Tamil word for mother, before losing consciousness. He died in hospital a week later.
A 15-year-old boy on trial for manslaughter has denied the charge, saying he hit Mr Nimalaraja in self defence.
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It is alleged that about 10 young people, all aged about 14 at the time, had been hanging around outside Leicester Stores in Gipsy Lane, Northfields, Leicester, late on June 6. At one stage, two attempted to buy a bottle of vodka, but were turned away.
It is alleged the pair started play fighting in the shop and the 41-year-old victim told them to go outside.
Moments later, the store's outside shutters were pulled down. Mr Nimalaraja shouted through the letterbox to the teenagers, saying he would call the police if they did not pull the shutters up.
The court was told that, as the closing time of 11pm approached, the teenagers left. Mr Nimalaraja also left the store.
Shop owner Sathiyaseelan Sampunathan was cleaning up outside after the store had closed when he heard a cry.
He turned and saw Mr Nimalaraja on the ground.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Sampunathan said: "He was unconscious. I got a bottle of water from the shop and sprinkled some in his face.
"He briefly opened his eyes and said 'amma, amma,' and then lost consciousness."
Witness Natalie Bruce, who was in the shop when the shutters were brought down, also gave evidence in court yesterday. She said: "I saw one of the assistants shouting to the boys through the letterbox to pull the shutters back up or he would call the police.
"I left and was walking away, followed by the boys, when I heard a noise. I saw the assistant telling the boys to go away or he would call the police. He was waving a mobile phone.
"I saw a punch thrown and he fell to the floor. I shouted at the boys to leave him alone and I ran over to see what I could do."
Ms Bruce's niece, Charlotte Moore, said: "The assistant was confronting them with a piece of wood in his hand.
"I saw him stumble backwards and heard his head hit the kerb."
Resident Sonia Collis also gave evidence. Speaking about the teenagers, she said: "They were rowdy as it was Saturday night."
Ms Collis said one of the teenagers called the defendant's name.
The defendant, who was 14 at the time of the incident, claims he threw the punch in self defence after Mr Nimalaraja approached him, armed with the wood, and grabbed him round the throat.
None of the female witnesses, nor Mr Sampunathan, saw Mr Nimalaraja grabbing anyone by the throat.
The trial continues.