Guilty: Boy, 16, faces jail for murder of Colindale shopkeeper who wouldn’t sell him cigarettes

Tributes to Vijay Patel outside a shop on The Broadway in Mill Hill, north London. Picture: Kirsty O

Tributes to Vijay Patel outside a shop on The Broadway in Mill Hill, north London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A Brent teenager faces jail for murdering Colindale man Vijay Patel with a punch to the neck – because he wouldn’t sell the boy cigarettes.

Vijaykumar Patel

Vijaykumar Patel - Credit: Met Police

The 49-year-old was working at his shop in Mill Hill Broadway on the evening of January 6 when three teenage boys – including his killer – walked in.

They tried to buy cigarettes but Vijay, full name Vijaykumar, refused to serve them, believing they were under age.

The trio became aggressive, threatening to vandalise the shop.

Vijaykumar, from Colindale, and a colleague followed them out to make sure they didn’t make good on their threats. The youths continued to be aggressive, challenging the pair to a fight and being abusive.

While the shopkeeper was waiting for them to move on, the 16-year-old boy hit him with across the neck with such force he fell to the ground and suffered catastrophic head injuries. The group also hit his colleague but the other man suffered only minor injuries and didn’t require hospital treatment.

The 16-year-old was found guilty of murder this morning.

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A post-mortem examination held at Northwick Park Hospital Mortuary soon after gave the provisional cause of Mr Patel’s death as head injuries.

The three boys were identified days later after an investigation including CCTV footage and forensic analysis.

Two days after the murder, the boy was arrested. According to police, he refused to cooperate and answered “no comment” to even the most basic questions.

Two boys, 15 and 16, were also arrested after they attended a central London police station days later.

The 16-year-old was given a youth caution on March 22 in relation to his actions toward the shop owner and witness.

The 15-year-old was released with no further action on January 19.

None of the boys can be named for legal reasons. Sentencing is expected to take place over the next few weeks.

Det Ch Insp Luke Marks from the Met’s murder squad said: “It beggars belief that a family man with two kids has lost his life over an argument about cigarette papers that got out of hand.

“This was an unprovoked spontaneous incident sparked entirely by the refusal to let the suspects buy what they wanted. A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law, which is there to protect everyone – including young people.”

Did you know Vijay? Call Harry at the Brent & Kilburn Times on 020 7433 0119, or e-mail