Shoplifter stole again months after storeworker’s death

A shoplifter arrested on suspicion of killing a supermarket shelf stacker went on to commit a similar offence just under a year later, a court heard.

Father-of-three Javed Agha, 52, collapsed from a heart attack after he helped apprehend Jacob Williams, 19, who tried to make off with a packet of biscuits from a Sainsbury’s store in Manchester city centre. Mr Agha died in hospital the following day.

Williams and two other men were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the incident in August 2007.

Mr Agha’s devastated family paid tribute to him at the time as a “kind-hearted man who was always willing to help anyone and everyone”.

The Crown Prosecution Service eventually decided there was insufficient evidence to link them with his death after “anxious consideration” and lesser charges were brought, Manchester Crown Court heard.

It emerged at the sentencing for the 2007 incident that Williams was up in court for another shoplifting matter in July 2008, while co-defendant Andrew Sinnott, 20, was himself cautioned for stealing from a shop in February 2008. Both were given condition discharges at the time.

Mr Agha, from Blackley, Manchester, had just arrived for his evening shift at the store in Whitworth Street West when a disturbance broke out involving a third man, Eytan Yates, 24.

Yates thumped a security guard from behind and then launched a torrent of abuse at him in which he shouted “We are going to kill you, f*** Sainsbury’s, f*** you all, you f****** nigger.”

His friend Williams picked up the biscuits during the melee and was about to leave the store without paying when Mr Agha seized him, shouting “shoplifter! thief!”, said prosecutor Miss Bernadette Baxter.

Both Williams and Yates, who was already banned from the store for using racial abuse, were taken into a back store room where both became aggressive.

Miss Baxter said three staff members were required to hold down Williams to the floor who screamed homophobic abuse, while Yates shouted “going to kill an asylum seeker, go back to your own country”.

Sinnott then appeared on the scene and complained that unnecessary force had been used on his friends. He eventually had to be ushered out of the store by Mr Agha.

Police then arrived and arrested Yates and Williams.

Miss Baxter said: “Mr Agha was taken ill shortly after they were all removed from the premises. He had been taken to hospital and, subsequently, sadly died.”

All three were sentenced to 12-month community orders and ordered to carry out unpaid work for the community in what Mr Justice Holroyde said was a “disgraceful incident all round”.

Williams, of Little Hulton, admitted theft, a Section 4 public order offence, and possession of a small amount of amphetamine.

Sinnott, of Braemar Road, Fallowfield, pleaded guilty to a Section 4 public order offence, while Yates, of Spring Lane, Radcliffe, admitted affray.

The judge said: “The three of you should be thoroughly ashamed of what happened. No-one in this court, least of all the defendants, should any longer underestimate the seriousness of violence towards the staff of such a business doing nothing more than their jobs.”

After viewing CCTV footage which captured part of the incident, he said: “What is apparent is that all three of you seemed to regard your conduct as nothing more than a joke.”

He said the matter escalated when Yates and Williams struggled with staff and abused them in what he regarded as “vile terms”.

”Why either of you thought it appropriate to behave in that way is impossible to imagine. It was a disgraceful incident all round and in my judgment by no means a trivial one,” he said.

”Quite properly, consideration was given as to whether it would be appropriate to prosecute any of these defendants for manslaughter.

”The decision was ultimately taken that such a prosecution was unwarranted. I make it perfectly plain that from that point the death of that unfortunate member of staff ceases to have any relevance to this sentencing exercise.”

He added that in his opinion a picture had emerged in which the defendants had done nothing to face up to their responsibilities and had still not appreciated the seriousness of the matter.

Sentencing Williams, he said: “I hope it does not feel any longer such a hilarious joke as the CCTV images suggested it was to you at the time.”

Both Williams and Sinnott had failed to keep appointments with the Probation Service in assisting pre-sentence reports and had not bothered to set up new dates.

An application on their behalf to adjourn sentencing today in order to fully complete the reports was described by the judge as “absurd”.

The delay had caused considerable expense to the public purse already which as unemployed men they had no realistic means of contributing to, he said.

Mr Justice Holroyde said he thought carefully about whether to impose custodial sentences but was persuaded otherwise due to their eventual acceptance of responsibility and their comparative youth.

In mitigation for Williams, Ian Johnstone said his client now recognised the consequences of his offending, while Simon Blakebrough, representing Sinnott, said the defendant accepted his intervention went beyond what was reasonable.

Rebecca Hirst, defending Yates – who appeared in the dock with a long, thick beard – said he had previously been targeted because of his “perceived ethnicity”.

He was the victim of a prolonged assault in which lighter fluid was poured on and set alight, she said.

This coupled with a difficult childhood had left him feeling persecuted.

Miss Hirst said being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter had a “profound affect on him” and had instilled maturity.

see full report here

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