Saturday, 3 December 2011


The killer of a popular Luton shopkeeper stabbed to death for the sake of a few pounds to spend on alcohol was jailed for a minimum of 31-and-a-half years in November 2009.

Jashbhai Patel was stabbed eight times by Richard Dettmer, 39, as he was opening the family business, Moon's Newsagents, in Park Street at 6.30am on June 14 2009.

Three hours earlier Dettmer had stabbed another man, James Foster, 18, who he had been drinking with in a park at Manor Road, Luton, and then demanded money from him.

Dettmer, who habitually carried a knife strapped to his leg, was angry at being thrown out of a friend's flat and having no money when he attacked Mr Patel.

The stabbing of Mr Foster had been potentially fatal, prosecutor Beverley Cripps said at Luton Crown Court.

She said a 77-year-old customer, Daniel Bacchus, had seen Dettmer struggling with Mr Patel in the shop doorway. He grabbed Dettmer and pushed him away and then saw the attacker had a knife.

Miss Cripps said: "He threatened the customer with it, saying 'if you want some more of the same', before taking some coins from the till area, possibly £20 or a little more. Then he fled.

"Mr Bacchus tried to help Mr Patel and dialled 999 before going to fetch his family who lived nearby. But he was in cardiac arrest and died shortly afterwards."

Dettmer was arrested at lunchtime the same day and at first made no reply to questions. But then he told an officer he wanted to make a confession. He first told how he stabbed Mr Foster twice in the back but the knife had then broken.

He said he had gone to the newsagents intending to steal a 'nourishment' drink. They were stored low down and when Mr Patel bent over he stabbed him.

He said: "It was a bit odd how that all came about. I stabbed him twice in the back and twice in the front [although it was in fact six times in the back and twice in the chest].

"He got up and started fighting me. I twisted the knife so he could not get hold of it."

Dettmer, of no fixed address, had originally intended to contest the murder charge on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but ten days ago wrote personally to the judge to say he wanted to plead guilty.

He has been examined by two psychiatrists who have diagnosed him with an emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Members of the family wore Tshirts with a picture of Mr Patel on the front to all court hearings.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Patel's daughter, Jaina Patel, said: "Our family was a happy small family with a comfortable life and loving parents who would do anything to ensure that all our needs and wishes were fulfilled.

"My father came to this country from India to settle down and make a go of his life. He called this place home.

"He went on to build a reputation for himself and the people of Luton knew who he was, what type of man he was and what he would do for others.

"His friendliness was priceless. He would go above and beyond for anyone, especially those who needed help.

"If it was snowing he would deliver papers to his customers and many were elderly and could not get out of their houses.

"My dad was a genuine family man he was close to retirement and would look forward to seeing his grandson every day.

"With my niece she completed the family. Both grandchildren were my dad's pride and joy. Spoiling them, loving them and playing with them was something he made sure he did.

"On June 14 our lives changed in a way that was unimaginable. Our lives have come to a halt and we are rebuilding it, learning to live again but things will never be the same.

"We will miss his life which was devoted to his family and to those who were his close friends. This was not my dad's time to die."