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Man jailed for life for murder of Pinner shopkeeper

News   •   Oct 11, 2019 21:38 BST

Convicted: Alex Gunn

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of a shopkeeper in Pinner.

Alexander Stephen Gunn, 31 (21.10.87) of no fixed address was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, 8 October, of the murder of Ravi Katharkamar.

He was also found guilty of four counts of burglary, two counts of theft from a motor vehicle and two counts of possession of a knife.

He was sentenced at the same court on Friday, 11 October to life with a minimum term of 32 years.

Police were called at around 06:00hrs on Sunday, 24 March to reports of a man suffering stab injuries on Marsh Road in Pinner.

Officers attended and immediately provided first aid; the London Ambulance Service also attended but 54-year-old Mr Katharkamar died at the scene a short time later.

A post-mortem examination held on Monday, 25 March gave the cause of death as shock and haemorrhage as a direct result of a stab wound.

Footage from within the shop at the time of the stabbing, showed Gunn remove a large kitchen-style knife from his pocket before approaching Mr Katharkamar who was organising that morning’s newspapers.

Mr Katharkamar was dragged towards the till before a struggle took place during which he suffered stab injuries. Gunn then fled the scene.
As a result of further extensive CCTV enquiries, a stolen Vauxhall Astra was identified as having been used by the suspect. This car had been stolen during a residential burglary in Brent on Tuesday, 12 March.

It was also seen on CCTV cameras in the area of the stabbing on the mornings of Friday, 13 and Tuesday, 17 March. Gunn was identified as the driver, and was wearing distinctive items of clothing that were also worn by the suspect in Mr Katharkamar’s death.

On Friday, 29 March, the Vauxhall was located by officers on Farringdon Road, EC1. It was stopped, and the driver, who identified himself as Gunn, was arrested.

He was charged on Thursday, 4 April with murder and robbery.

He was also charged with a number of unrelated offences of burglary, theft from a motor vehicle, possession of an offensive weapon and driving whilst disqualified.

Mr Katharkamar’s wife, Vignarani Aiyathirai, who is disabled as a result of a road traffic collision a number of years ago, has shared a statement explaining the terrible impact of her husband’s murder. Their sons are aged 13 and 16.

“Ravi was my husband, my best friend, my soulmate. He was a friend of my brother and we had met a few times when I was a teenager, when we both lived in Sri Lanka.

“When I was 20 years old I moved to Holland. I met Ravi again, he was working in a near-by flower factory. He was lovely, always looking out for everyone else, and we fell in love and married four months later.
We remained in Holland for the following eight years. We bought a house and had our two boys.

“In 2006, we moved to England to provide a good education for our sons and be closer to our family, particularly Ravi’s brother. Ravi immediately looked for work, he had various jobs, including working in factories and driving a mini-cab in the evenings. He made sure his work fitted around our family life, so he could take the boys to school or pick them up and look after them until I finished work.

“He was a family man, and our house used to be an active and happy house. Ravi was so cheerful. He would race around our home always signing old Tamil songs and making the boys laugh. Now it is silent and tearful. Losing Ravi has hit our sons really hard.

“Ravi was a son, cousin, favourite uncle, friend, colleague, business partner, best friend, dad and my husband. He was kind, generous, hardworking, humorous and loving.

“Today, and every day since Ravi died, I have found it unbearable. How could one person cause such devastation to so many of us, including young children. I will never get over losing Ravi.”

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said:

“Ravi Katharkamar and Alex Gunn couldn’t be more different. Ravi was a warm and loving father and husband. A man who worked long hours to support his young family and run his shop in the heart of the local community in Pinner.

“Alex Gunn on the other hand, is a career criminal who has spent much of his adult life preying on other people.

“Gunn’s crime spree began on a cold night in March this year when he forced his way into a house in north west London and rifled through the occupants’ belongings whilst they slept upstairs.

“Just over a week later, in the early hours of the morning, he broke into another house not far away from the first and stole, amongst other things, a Vauxhall Astra car.

“It was that Vauxhall Astra that was to be his downfall as it was seen on two occasions before the murder, visiting the area of Ravi’s shop. It was no coincidence that the time of those visits was at 6am, when Ravi was alone.

“At 6am on 24 March, Gunn, with a clear plan in his mind, parked that car near to Ravi’s shop, covered his face, turned his jacket inside out and put on a pair of gloves. Having armed himself with a large knife he walked quickly into the shop, knowing from his previous visits, that Ravi would be alone and at the back. Without warning he grabbed Ravi from behind and put the knife to his throat.

“Ravi had no chance against a younger, bigger and violent armed man who was determined to rob him. Having ripped the till from the counter, Gunn stabbed Ravi twice in the chest before leaving him to die alone on his shop floor.

“In the days afterward Gunn burgled more houses, but not before disguising his stolen Astra by switching the number plates with ones he had stolen from other similar black Vauxhall Astras.

“Despite the burglary offences being strikingly similar to his long list of previous convictions, despite the CCTV evidence being utterly compelling, despite the forensic evidence linking him to the car being incontrovertible, despite the glaring similarities in his clothing, Gunn continued to lie and squirm his way through his evidence, forcing Ravi’s family to relive the harrowing circumstances.

“Alex Gunn is an odious, vile and dangerous individual who I am pleased to say will now be in prison for a very long time.”