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Think Outside The Box

Scotland Yard in leaflet drive to solve Indian-origin man’s murder case

Scotland Yard detectives on Wednesday returned to a west London scene of crime with leaflets seeking information and reminding people of the 20,000-pound reward on offer for anyone with information related to the murder of an Indian-origin man, who died following a brutal assault by eight men 17 years ago.

Rajesh ‘Raj’ Verma suffered severe brain damage in the attack at Acton Park in August 2003 and the 42-year-old went on to be treated in hospital before being discharged.

However, he was left with a number of ongoing health issues due to the damage caused to his brain by a stab wound to his head with a set of garden shears and he later died in May 2018, nearly 15 years after the assault.

The Metropolitan Police launched a murder investigation in March of this year following a special post-mortem which concluded a causal link between the assault in 2003 and Verma’s subsequent death.

“The attack on Raj involved a vicious and ferocious level of violence by a group of men, one of whom stabbed him in the head with a set of garden shears found near to the crime scene,” said Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall who is leading the investigation and has been issuing regular appeals this year.

“We believe Raj was attacked after he intervened in a dispute between one of his friends and another individual. The suspects are believed to be local to the Acton area and are likely to still be living there or have links to the area. All were described as being of East African appearance,” she said.

The officer highlighted that Verma’s family have not been able to see those responsible brought to justice for the last 17 years.

“This is a shocking crime and I am in no doubt that people will have talked or boasted about it. I need you to cast your mind back to 2003 and if you have any knowledge of this horrific crime or the identity of Raj’s killer, then I implore you to make contact with us. We are offering a reward of GBP 20,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible,” added Tunstall.

A police investigation was carried out in 2003 but no suspect was arrested or charged. In 2015, Verma had a major heart attack, which resulted in a lack of oxygen to his brain that further complicated the existing damage.

This rendered him unresponsive and unable to move or speak for the last 18 months of his life. Verma also suffered from epilepsy as a result of the stab wound and broke his hip in 2017 during a fitting episode and died on May 27, 2018.

His wife, Roma Verma, said the aftermath of the “random and unexpected” attack had a huge impact on the family.

“Our children were 11 and 13 when their lives were turned upside down. We chose to care for him at home in the way that he had cared for all of us. Each member of the family helped to care for him,” she said in a statement.

She recalled how her late husband was unable to think, move, talk or walk, but the family still felt he could feel their presence and persevered. He required 24-hour assistance and the family said they watched him in the same position “day after day”.

“He was a very popular man in Acton. Hundreds paid their respects at his funeral. There were friends and family but also homeless people, and local business people who he had helped tirelessly,” she said.

A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded in the long-running case at an inquest held at West London Coroners Court on in November last year.

The Met Police have assured confidentiality to anyone who comes forward with information related to the killing.