Delivery driver killed by pair in raid to steal three pizzas

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Two men have been convicted of killing a Pizza Hut delivery driver in a botched robbery for three pizzas.

Father-of-two Ali Qasemi, whose wife Fawzia was pregnant with their third child, was delivering three pizzas costing just over £50 when he was floored with a single punch and hit his head on the ground. He died two days later.

Joel Lawson, 25, formerly of Goodhale Road, Norwich, admitted throwing the punch and pleaded guilty to robbery and manslaughter.

His friend Mark Lintott, 29, denied both charges but was found guilty of manslaughter and robbery following a seven-day trial at Peterborough Crown Court.

Lawson told the court a group of friends had been drinking lager and using cocaine at Lintott's flat in Shrewsbury Court, Peterborough.

Lintott phoned Pizza Hut and provided a false address in his street, hoping to snatch the pizzas without paying for them and with no comeback to his address, the court heard.

When 45-year-old Mr Qasemi arrived in the early hours of Sunday, May 8, he was attacked and the pair made off with the pizzas.

Mr Qasemi's widow screamed at Lawson as he gave evidence: "Burn in hell, you're evil."

Lawson, describing when he and Lintott arrived back at the flat with the pizzas, told the court: "Everyone was sort of laughing at the time.

"Someone said 'I can't believe you've done it'."

The prosecution said that although Lawson threw the punch, both he and Lintott were "equally responsible" as they hatched the plan together.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson, speaking after the hearing, said: "This was a sickening, senseless crime, which has caused misery to Mr Qasemi's wife and her young sons.

"They have lost a loving, devoted husband and father; devastating their close-knit family, all for the price of three pizzas.

"I and my inquiry team send our deepest sympathy to Mrs Qasemi and the boys at this incredibly difficult time."

The pair are due to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on November 18.

Karen Russell, chief people officer of Pizza Hut UK, said: "We were extremely saddened by the news in May that one of our franchise staff members, Ali Qasemi, had died following an assault.

"The safety of our team members has always been our priority and is an integral part of both our driver training and annual recertification.

"Since May we have put in place a number of measures to prevent this happening again, including a new order verification process and a review of delivery driver safety training.

"We have also been working closely with our franchisee to support Mr Qasemi's family, and our thoughts remain with them during this difficult time."