London

Pair convicted of Gagandip Singh car fire killing

Harvinder Shoker (left) and Darren Peters
Image caption Harinder Shoker (left) and Darren Peters were found guilty of killing the television executive

Two men have been found guilty of killing a television executive who was beaten and left to die in a burning car in south-east London.

Gagandip Singh, 21, was put in the boot before the vehicle was set ablaze in Blackheath, last February.

Harinder Shoker, 20, was convicted of murder while Darren Peters, also 20, was convicted of manslaughter.

Mundill Mahil, 20, was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm. She and the men had denied murder.

Shoker was found guilty of murder by a majority verdict of 10-2 by a jury at the Old Bailey.

Judge Paul Worsley said all the defendants would be given long sentences.

'Play God'

But he allowed Mahil to remain on conditional bail until Wednesday's sentencing, telling her: "I regard a long custodial sentence as virtually inevitable."

Outside court, a statement read on behalf of Mr Singh's family, said: "Words are not enough to express the great loss of our son and brother.

"On a day to day basis there is a gap in our lives and a sense of loneliness."

The jury heard that the attack on Mr Singh was planned after the victim allegedly tried to rape medical student Mahil six months before he died.

Prosecutors said the killers had decided to "play God".

Mahil lured him down to her university house in Brighton, where he was set upon by Shoker and Peters, jurors heard.

The two men viciously beat Mr Singh, bundled him into the boot of a car and drove it to Blackheath, where they set it alight.

Mr Singh died from inhaling the smoke which filled the boot as the blaze took hold.

Mahil had confided in Shoker about the attempted sex attack, and he recruited Peters to help him in the plot against Mr Singh.

She insisted she had no idea Mr Singh would be hurt and said she believed the men were going to take him to see an older man to be lectured about religion and how to treat women.

'Sexual predator'

Jurors were told by prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC, in his closing speech: "Gagandip had his share of faults. There is no doubt about it. He may have deserved some punishment.

Image caption Mahil lured Mr Singh to her university house in Brighton

"But for a group of youngsters to decide that they are the custodians of Sikh virtue and play God on the subject of religious duty and moral obligation is a grotesque turn of events.

"The reality is this was vengeance for a sexual predator, which was the way they liked to portray the man who died."

Following the verdict, Det Sup Damian Allain said: "I would like to pay tribute to Gagandip's mother and sister who have acted with the utmost dignity during the investigation and subsequent trial despite having to listen to the lies proffered in the defence cases for all three defendants."

Shoker is of Charlton Park Lane in Greenwich, Peters is from Shooters Hill Road in Blackheath and Mahil is from Maidstone Road in Chatham, Kent.

The judge thanked jurors and excused them from further jury service for ten years because the trial had been "unusual and anxious".

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