Three men have been found guilty of the ruthless killing of a Leicester jeweller, whose body was found dumped in the Harborough countryside.
The trio had spent weeks planning to rob the safe at a jewellery shop in Belgrave Road, Leicester, owned by 74-year-old Ramniklal Jogiya.
On the evening of January 24 this year they kidnapped Mr Jogiya as he walked home, after locking up his shop for the night.
The gang bundled him into a stolen van, and launched a horrific attack on him, forcing him to hand over the keys to his shop, and torturing him until he told them the shop’s alarm de-activation code and the combination code for a safe.
But despite their meticulous planning, they had not realised the safe was on a 12-hour delay, and they could not get into it, even with the code.
The terrified jeweller was dumped and left to die alone by the side of the quiet Gaulby Lane, Stoughton, east of Leicester.
The detective who led the investigation to catch the gang said their “horrific and brutal” crime “all but defied description”.
DCI David Swift-Rollinson said: “Rarely have I investigated a crime so wicked and ruthless. The depravity, inhumanity and utter contempt they showed for their victim has caused untold anguish for his family and stunned the whole community.
“The only possible comfort left for the family is that the people responsible for this terrible crime will now be locked up for a very long time.”
Following a five-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Thomas Jervis, 24, of Enderby Road, Whetstone, Leicester, and Charles Frances Mcauley, 20, of Gooding Avenue, Leicester, were both found guilty of murder. They had previously admitted kidnap and robbery.
Callan Reeve, 20, of Biddle Road, Leicester, was found guilty of manslaughter. He too had previously pleaded guilty to kidnap and robbery.
All three defendants were remanded into custody. They will be sentenced on Monday, September 10.
A fourth defendant - Javon Roach, 30, of Norwich Road, Leicester - was acquitted of kidnap, robbery and murder.
At around 7.45pm on the evening of January 24 this year, Mr Jogiya locked up his jewellers shop in Belgrave Road and set off on the short walk home, as he did every night.
But he didn’t arrive, and by 8pm his family knew something was wrong.
Having visited the shop, phoned his mobile phone, and made other enquiries, the family raised the alarm and a major investigation was launched.
Around 10am the following morning, the body of the loving husband and devoted father of three was found beside Gaulby Lane, close to Leicester Airfield.
What had begun as a missing person inquiry immediately became a murder investigation.
Mr Jogiya had been beaten to death, suffering a total of 27 injuries including broken ribs and wounds to his face, hands and arms. He had died from a major brain injury caused by a severe assault to his head.
During the six-month investigation, officers found CCTV images of Mr Jogiya locking up the jewellers and beginning his walk home. Other images showed three men jumping out of a white Transit van which had been parked on Brandon Street and bundling the terrified shopkeeper into the vehicle.
Further images showed that, about 50 minutes later, a man dressed in a burka and pulling a shopping trolley entered Mr Jogiya’s shop. This person was seen to deactivate the shop alarm and go to the back of the shop where Mr Jogiya kept a safe. The figure emerged a little time later - seemingly empty-handed.
DCI Swift-Rollinson said: “These men had planned to kidnap and rob Mr Jogiya, but it went tragically wrong. They launched a sustained and ferocious attack on Mr Jogiya which ultimately killed him.
“Mr Jogiya’s safe was set with a 12-hour delay every night when he went home, and even with the right combination code no-one could have accessed it until 12 hours later. Realising they couldn’t get access to the Asian gold he kept in the safe, the gang drove away from the scene, empty-handed, throwing their victim’s phone out of the window in the countryside.
“At some point they decided to dump Mr Jogiya in the middle of the open countryside, knowing he was a long way from help.
“Although he was still alive at this point, the injuries he had suffered were so severe that he could not be saved.
“Mr Jogiya was a kind, gentle and devoted family man. I cannot begin to imagine the horror he must have felt as the events of that ghastly night unfolded.
“My thoughts, first and foremost, remain with Mr Jogiya’s family. I thank them for their co-operation and patience with the investigation team, and I cannot praise more highly the dignity they have shown throughout this nightmare. I can only hope that the verdicts of the jury will bring them some, small, solace.
“In addition, I want to thank the many residents and business owners in the Belgrave Road area for their help and co-operation during this tragic time."
Mr Jogiya's family have released a statement in tribute to their father, following the court case..
They said: “Our father was a true gentleman. He was kind, friendly, loyal, unassuming, generous and well-respected in his community.
“He was a hardworking, patient and joyful man who was dedicated to his whole family including his wife and his three children and it was when he was surrounded by his family that he was at his happiest. You could see the light of joy in his eyes."