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Balbir Matharu was dragged to death under car'


NRI Balbir Matharu mowed down and killed by thieves for £5 car radio
Also noticed- how poor coverage was done in UK for the two people murdered same day

London, April 25, 2008
Labh Singh Labana

January 12, 2006, Balbir Matharu, 54, saw the two men breaking into his Mercedes Sprinter van through a window in an apparent attempt to steal his radio. Two brothers Albert Willett, 26, and Tommy Willett, 24 were arrested in July 2006 for the crime. They deny murder.

The prosecutor, Crispin Aylett, QC said:

  • Mr Mathuru was working nearby and saw two men breaking into his Mercedes Sprinter van– called out and ran across the road to where the van was parked. The thief ran back to the green Mondeo and jumped in ready to be driven away.
  • Mr Mathuru stood in front of the van and banged on the bonnet with his hand. The car at this point was stationary. Mr Mathuru no doubt expected the car not to move. But the older brother wasn't having it.
  • According to a witness, Tommy Willett said "Go, go" to his brother before they ran over Mr Matharu. They drove off. Mr Matharu was dragged along for 40 meters. The car then drove over Mr Matharu but even that was not enough to make them stop. They left Mr Matharu lying in the road. Mr Matharu died a few hours later. When Mr Mathuru finally fell under their Ford Mondeo, it would have felt "like driving over a speed bump.
  • Then they had taken their car to a scrap yard, where it was crushed, soon after running over Mr Matharu.
  • When the Willetts were first arrested, in July 2006, they denied the crime, but officers bugged their cell.
    • "Albert Willett was heard to say, 'What if they get us on camera when we went to the scrap yard? What shall we say? Someone gave us the car to break the engine?'."
  • Albert Willett admitted driving the car and his younger brother was in the passenger seat. Albert Willett, 26, admitted an alternative charge of manslaughter but Tommy Willett pleaded not guilty. Both men live at a travelers' site in Stratford, east London. Tommy Willett was secretly recorded singing a song to himself in his cell about his involvement in the crime.

    The car stereo was left behind by the thieves, the court heard. "So Mr Mathuru was killed for what? A car radio that, no doubt, would have been sold in a pub for £5.

    Balbir Matharu was a hard-working and family man. He was married for 30 years to Sukhvinder, 51. The couple had one daughter, Baljinder, 28 and two sons Inderjit, 25, and Baljinder. He had worked six days a week for a family friend who ran a builders' merchant in Stratford, East London, near the crime scene. Sukhvinder and daughter, Baljinder worked in the shop. Inderjit and Baljinder also run a double glazing company at the back of the yard.

There was great criticism in the media now, how poor and more coverage was done in the UK for the two people murdered the same day, January 12, 2006

  • In Balbir Matharu case, some coverage in the local weekly papers was noticed- The first statement was sparse, indicating it may have been simply a road accident; it was four days before police disclosed that Mr Matharu had been dragged along by the car or released a picture of him.
  • The killing of Tom ap Rhys Pryce, the lawyer stabbed to death in north-west London- It was the national news and most of UK papers and other media updated all the time

When we look both cases:

  • Full details of Mr Rhys Pryce's murder were available immediately, together with a photograph and a colorful quote from a detective. Over the following 10 days, 16 press releases were issued about his case, together with CCTV images, all of which helped propel coverage
  • Only six releases were issued about Mr Matharu.






NRI Balbir Matharu mowed down and killed by thieves for £5 car radio
Also noticed- how poor coverage was done in UK for the two people murdered same day