Anarchy: Court hears of horrific attack on curry house
by Suzy Gibson, Court Correspondent
The actions of seven men involved in the ransacking of a Leicester curry house, in which several people were seriously injured, was "lawless anarchy", a judge has said.
Jailing each of the men for two years, Judge Simon Hammond said: "This was mob rule."
The owner and two members of staff suffered stab wounds, and customers were also attacked, when a group of 40 to 50 people burst into Moghul Durbar, in East Park Road, Spinney Hills, Leicester, at 9pm on January 14.
Leicester Crown Court was told the group had earlier met at a Sikh temple in Gipsy Lane, Northfields, in response to a text message claiming a member of their community was the victim of abuse.
They wrongly assumed the police were not taking action and, after being incorrectly informed that one or more of the suspected culprits would be at the restaurant, decided to take the law into their own hands.
"The owner and two members of staff were going about their lawful business and several members of the public, occupying four or five tables, including women and children, were eating there and enjoying themselves," said Gordon Aspden, prosecuting.
"The attack happened without warning, when the group began smashing the front windows of the restaurant.
"Armed men entered, from the front and rear. Many had their faces covered with scarves and hoods. Some were carrying ceremonial knives, metal bars, nunchucks and bricks.
"The sheer terror caused can't be over-emphasised. The premises were completely trashed, with furniture, glasses and plates smashed and carpets fouled with food and blood. It was wanton destruction.
"The owner was hit on the head by flying glass and forced into the kitchen, where he was stabbed in the chest and right arm and punched repeatedly.
"The waiter had hot water and chilli sauce thrown over him before suffering a life-threatening stab wound to his liver, while repeatedly being punched and kicked. The chef was stabbed in the back and hit over the head."
A husband and wife with their three children were finishing their ice creams when the mayhem broke out.
The husband was punched and retreated to the kitchen where a pan of hot curry was poured over him.
Mr Aspden said: "Two of his children followed him and saw what happened, and one was injured by a flying glass."
The man was the only witness willing to make a statement, as everyone else was too fearful.
People were seen fleeing in terror and covered in blood.The emergency services were called and who arrived quickly, moments after the mob fled. Mr Aspden said Pc Jennifer Collins's actions at the scene were "exemplary".
He said: "Her uniform was covered in so much blood, through helping the injured, it was used as an exhibit."
Two witnesses gave the police a registration number of one of the vehicles at the scene, a VW Golf, which was stopped northbound on the M1.
Masking tape had been used to alter its registration number, to try to evade the police.
Six of the defendants, all from Derby, were in the car: Surjit Pandher (28), a former prison warden, of Northfield, who owned the car; Gurmukh Singh Cheema (25), of Harrington Street; Ranjit Singh (21), of Harrington Street; Sundeep Singh Sangha (25), a gas heating engineer, of Wordsworth Avenue; Rajveer Singh Sangha (24), a college student, of Wordsworth Avenue; and Ranvir Singh (21), of Harrington Street.
Mr Aspden said blood-stained gloves were found in the car.
The seventh defendant, Kahan Khalsa (26), of Oldbury, Birmingham, was later arrested in the West Midlands.
All seven men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit violent disorder, on the basis they played no part in the stabbings or beatings.
Mr Aspden said: "It's quite impossible, on the evidence, to say who did what."
In a moving statement read out in court, the restaurant owner's wife said her husband survived a near-fatal car crash in 2008, after which he suffered from depression.
When they bought the restaurant in 2012, she said it gave him and the whole family "a new lease of life".
Mr Aspden said: "They were proud to have built the restaurant up from nothing ."
The owner's wife said she received a phone call after the attack and went to the restaurant to see her husband, covered in blood, being put in an ambulance.
She stated: "Since the attack, he's back to how he was before the restaurant.
"We've lost over £45,000 and we now want to want to move from here."
Judge Simon Hammond said: "No-one at the restaurant, either staff or customers, had anything do to with any allegations and were totally innocent."
He added: "It was carefully orchestrated. This was mob rule and the restaurant was trashed. It was lawless anarchy."
The judge said it was "as bad a case of violent disorder as is possible to imagine".
"I accept all seven defendants are decent men of previous good character. It gives me great sadness to see them in the dock.
"They come from good homes and they've let themselves and their families down."
He said the dozens of testimonials handed into the court spoke highly of the defendants.
In mitigation, the court heard the defendants, including two sets of brothers, genuinely regretted their involvement.
Francis Laird QC, mitigating for Ranjit Singh, said that at the meeting in the temple emotions were "whipped into a frenzy".
He said: "They set off, many not knowing what would happen, unaware weapons other than ceremonial kirpans were involved. The men responsible for serious violence were never caught.
"These defendants were the minnows, who went along out of misguided support."
Other defence counsel said some of them were only expecting "a protest" at the restaurant and did not anticipate violence.