Man jailed for 11 years after shopkeeper suffers fatal injuries in car park

Court
Court

A man from Radwell has been jailed for 11 years for his part in a theft where a shopkeeper suffered fatal injuries.

The shopkeeper had tried to stop thieves who had broken into his van in a cash and carry car park.

Prasanna ‘Nick’ Arulchelvam ran and jumped through an open side door of their van, but was pushed out as it sped away and hit the ground.

A customer in the Costo car park heard a “nasty crunch” as the 34-year-old dad’s head hit the ground.

Michael McInerney shouted: “Move it” as their Peugeot van sped off towards the A41, Luton Crown Court heard today (Monday, April 20).

Mr Prasanna, who lived in Watford with his wife and young son, died on June 6, 2013 in St Mary’s Hospital in London, 11 days after the attack.

McInerney, 34, from Borehamwood, Herts, who was living at the time in Radwell, appeared via a video link from Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes. At an earlier hearing he pleaded not guilty to murder and not guilty to conspiracy to rob.

His pleas of guilty to alternative charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to steal were accepted by the prosecution. He had 17 convictions for 32 offences and operated with alias names and false dates of birth.

At the time Mr Prasanna was attacked, McInerney was serving a seven-month suspended sentence suspended for 15 months for a similar theft from a motor vehicle at a cash and carry in Sheerness, in which a man who tried to stop him fell into the road.

Today he was jailed for a total of 11 years - 10 and a half years for manslaughter, 2 years concurrent for conspiracy to steal, with six months consecutive from the suspended sentence.

Last October cousins Patrick and James O’Driscoll were handed ten-and-a-half years and seven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Prasanna. Patrick O’Driscoll’s sentence was increased to 12 years on appeal.

Prosecutor John Price QC said Mr Prasanna finished his purchases at Costco at 14.28 on Sunday 26 May 2013. He returned to his silver Transit van and loaded a large box containing 21 smaller boxes of cigarettes in his van. He took his trolley back to a bay and returned to see that the stock he had bought had been disturbed.

“Mr Prasanna courageously acted in an attempt to stop the driver getting away. With equal determination and with an utterly callous regard for his safety, the two men used violence that cost this man his life. Patrick O’Driscoll was the driver. Michael McInerney was in the rear of the vehicle. Mr Prasanna was forced out but managed to hold onto the side of the vehicle before the door was shut and he fell to the ground.

A witness said it was as if he had been pushed or kicked away from the van. Nothing had been taken from Mr Prasanna’s van. The third defendant James O’Driscoll was in another vehicle at the scene.

The day before, the two O’Driscolls had carried out thefts and attempted thefts at Booker cash and carry stores in Dagenham, Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich.

On the Sunday they drove to Radwell and collected McInerney. In two vans they went to three sites, where they stole or attempted to steal from customers at Bookers in Bedford and Luton and at PC World at the Staples Retail Park in Hendon, before going to Costco in Watford.

McInerney went on the run after he was arrested in December 2013 and bailed. A European Arrest Warrant was issued but he was arrested in Corby, in December 2014.

Defence barrister Henry Hughes said the father of three accepts responsibility for the death of a man who deserved no harm at all. “He will live with the horror of the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. He wanted no more than a few cheap packets of cigarettes,” he said.

Judge Michael Kay QC told McInerney: “Mr Prasanna was a hard working man and a family man with a wife and 2 and a half year old son. He is described as a devoted and very loving father and husband.

“I can’t help but compare Mr Prasanna who was a hard-working and lawful citizen with you. What example are you setting to your three children? “

“You applied violence to get Mr Prasanna off the vehicle. You pushed him out of the vehicle which began the chain of events that led to his death.”