A man who carried out a savage attack on a shopkeeper on the same spot her husband was murdered has been jailed for 17 years.
31-year-old Tomasz Jaworski taunted widowed Nirupa Patel as he gripped her in a headlock at Moon’s newsagents on Park Street on December 24 2015.
Catching sight of a shrine to her husband Jashbhai – who was murdered in the shop in an attack on June 14, 2009 – Jaworski taunted her, “I’m going to send you to him”.
During the lengthy ordeal, Jaworski used a shard of glass to cut Mrs Patel’s face, furiously rained down cans of beer on her head, punching and kicking her before he was dragged away by police.
Today, at Luton Magistrates Court he was sentenced to 12 years in prison with an added five years extension in recognition as a dangerous offender.
Judge Richard Foster said: “She was a vulnerable victim in view of her size, running a convenience store and providing a public service.”
The court heard that Polish Jaworski appeared topless and dishevelled earlier on December 24 and launched a vicious attack on a man at a bus stop before heading over to Moon’s newsagents.
There, he confronted Mrs Patel’s nephew who was working behind the counter.
Prosecutor Beverly Cripps said: “Mr Patel formed the view he was drunk. The man was saying he hadn’t eaten in four days and wanted to kill someone.”
Jaworski was told to leave but carried on shouting outside.
Ms Cripps went on: “Then he came back in the shop. There was a tussle as Mr Patel tried to get him out the shop. He was trying to keep the door closed and the defendent was trying to open the door.
“It was at this stage Mrs Patel appeared. Initially, the defendent said, ‘I don’t want to hurt ladies, I want to kill him’. Mr Patel took that as a threat.”
Outside, Mr Jaworski then smashed a bottle over Mr Patel’s head, leaving him “dazed and unsure what was happening”.
Jaworski then turned his attention to Nirupa Patel.
Ms Cripps said: “Another witness saw that in order to get Mrs Patel in the shop, the defendent held her by her hair, pushed her downwards, lifted her legs up and carried her in the shop.”
The court saw CCTV of the incident, showing Mrs Patel trying to flee - only to be prevented by Jaworski who was brandishing a pen as a weapon and gripped her in a headlock.
“He got hold of the pen, held it to her neck and said, ‘I’m going to kill you if you call the police, I’ll kill you’.
“On two separate occasions, she felt her eyes were going to come out of their sockets.”
Jaworski then cut a 15cm line across Mrs Patel’s face using the shard of glass.
“She saw a picture of her husband, she lit a candle to him every day. The defendent said, ‘I’m going to send you to him’.”
Mrs Patel was then punched, kicked, and repeatedly hit over the head with beer cans in a frenzied attack until police arrived.
In a victim impact statement, she said: “On December 24 I lost my livelihood and lost my life’s work, but most importantly I lost the chance to keep my husband’s memory alive.”
Mrs Patel revealed how she and her husband Jashbhai has taken over the shop in October 1986 and were proud of their solid links with the community until Jashbhai’s murder in 2009.
“That incident was the single most difficult time in my life,” said Mrs Patel.
Six months after the death of her husband on June 14 2009, she made the brave decision to keep the much-loved family business going – boosted by support from the community.
“We worked very hard to make sure it was a good business. I saw my husband put blood, sweat and tears into it.... It was hard work starting the business up again after the death of my husband.
“For a lot of people work is just work, but for me it was everything, it was my life, it was a business that we created to give our children the best life they could have.”
But Mrs Patel has been left feeling scarred in the aftermath of her attack.
“I feel empty, I’m a shell of who I was. I used to wake up at three o’clock in the morning, clean the shop front and clear the snow away for customers.
“I close my eyes and I see the person who attacked me hovering over me... I feel so angry that my children had to receive the same sort of phonecall about me as my husband.”
The shop was sold to new owners in January of this year, but its loyal customers continue to ask about Mrs Patel.
She added: “I refuse to let the man who attacked me make me live the rest of my life as a victim. I’m going to keep on struggling until I’m me again. I won’t let him beat me.”
Jaworski was also given two 16-month sentences to serve side-by-side for the other assaults.