Teenager jailed after punch caused death of Leicester dad-of-two Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja
A teenager who punched a man in the street, causing him to fall and hit his head, has been jailed for manslaughter.
Father-of-two Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja died in hospital a week after he was found seriously injured at the junction of Gipsy Lane and Northfield Road, in Northfields, Leicester.
At a hearing at Derby Crown Court yesterday, a 15-year-old boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, was sentenced to three years in a young offenders' centre.
The boy denied killing the 41-year-old shop worker, but a jury at the same court had found him guilty of manslaughter following a five-day trial in November.
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Speaking after the sentencing yesterday, Mr Nimalaraja's wife Mathanika said: "We have been left devastated by the events that happened that night and would like to thank the Sri Lankan community and the police for their support.
"That support has helped us to piece together our lives and we are now beginning to look forward to the future."
Mr Nimalaraja, who was known as Nimal, was helping a friend close Leicester Stores, in Gipsy Lane, Northfields, at about 11pm on Saturday, June 9, when he was involved in a confrontation with a gang of youths.
He was punched in the face by the 15-year-old and fell backwards, hitting his head on a kerb.
During the trial, the court heard that before losing consciousness, Mr Nimalaraja, opened his eyes and called "amma, amma" – the Tamil word for mother.
He died at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham a week later.
Mr and Mrs Nimalaraja lived nearby in Essex Road with their children Diluxshan, 13, and Leyana, nine.
Speaking after the sentencing, officers who worked on the case said the "totally avoidable" incident had devastating effects.
Detective Superintendent Matt Hewson, who led the investigation, said: "This was a totally avoidable criminal act that has left a family without a loving husband and father.
"These circumstances are a reminder to everyone that events can escalate and have tragic consequences. I hope Nimal's family can now begin to rebuild their lives."
Mr Nimalaraja was a kitchen assistant at Barnsdale Hall Hotel, Rutland, as well as a worker at the shop.
A 14-year-old boy, who pleaded guilty to affray related to the incident at an earlier hearing, will be sentenced on Friday, January 25.