Widow of Leicester murder victim in plea to parents of teenagers
A grieving widow whose husband was killed after he confronted a group of teenagers today called on parents to help police find his killer.
Mathanika Nimalaraja made the plea as she revealed her Tamil husband, Ponnuthurai, had fled his homeland as a young man to escape persecution by the Sri Lankan military.
Police believe the father-of-two probably died as a result of falling backwards and hitting his head after being punched by one of the youths.
A murder investigation is under way.
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Mrs Nimalaraja urged parents in Northfields, Leicester, to come forward if they had any information about the incident, which happened at the junction of Gipsy Lane and Northfield Road.
Surrounded by family members, many of whom had flown in from Canada to be at her side, she said: "It is important for me and my family to find whoever is responsible.
"I have been left without my husband and my children without a father.
"I would ask mothers and fathers to talk to the police if they know anything."
As well as being helped by family members, Mrs Nimalaraja and her children Diluxshan, 13, and Leyana, nine, are finding support from within Leicester's Tamil community, of about 350 families.
She said: "My husband was very sociable. He played football for the Tamil community.
"He would help everybody. He made a lot of friends here.
"He would play in the park with the children, take them to cinemas and restaurants and we would go to France and Germany on holiday.
"He had booked a holiday in July for us to go and see his sister in Sri Lanka."
Mrs Nimalaraja said her husband was persecuted when he lived in Sri Lanka.
"He was beaten all over his body by soldiers from an army camp," she said.
"He went to live in Colombo. He left because it was not a safe place to live and was given asylum in Germany in 1993."
She said her husband decided to move the family to England because he wanted the children to speak English, like most of the extended family, who had moved to Canada.
Mrs Nimalaraja said: "He used to read story books with Leyana.
"It helped him to learn English."
Her sister, Thayapari Thayalam, one of five family members to fly in from Canada, said: "The family is like a ship without a motor.
"They don't know where they are going or what they're going to do in the future."
Mr Nimalaraja suffered serious head injuries in the attack, on Saturday, June 9.
He died from his injuries the following Saturday.
Detective Constable Scott Cairns, a family liaison officer, said: "It is an appeal from the mother of two children left without their father to other parents to come forward and tell us what happened, to try and give this nice, hard-working family some resolution."
Six boys and a girl, aged from 13 to 15, have been arrested as part of the police inquiry and released on police bail.
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.