Jail for men who killed pizza delivery man in 'snatch and grab' robbery

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Two men who killed a Pizza Hut delivery driver then laughed and joked as they ate the stolen pizzas have been jailed for their act of "pure evil".

Afghan refugee Ali Qasemi was lured to a false address, floored with a single punch, then his two assailants stole their takeaway order of three pizzas, costing just over £50.

The father-of-two, whose wife Fawzia was pregnant with their third child, hit his head on the ground in the early hours of May 8 and died two days later.

A trial at Peterborough Crown Court last month heard that defendants Mark Lintott and Joel Lawson had been drinking lager and using cocaine with friends at Lintott's Peterborough flat when Lintott decided to phone Pizza Hut.

He 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.

Those in the flat had joked it would be funny to see a deliveryman chasing them down the street with the stolen pizzas following the "snatch and grab", said Gregory Perrins, prosecuting.

Lintott, who made the phone call, went outside along with Lawson, and the court heard both men were prepared to use or support the use of force to steal the pizzas.

Lawson, 25, admitted throwing the punch, but the prosecution argued that 29-year-old Lintott, who continues to deny his guilt, was equally responsible for 45-year-old Mr Qasemi's death as it was a joint enterprise.

Lawson, who pleaded guilty to robbery and manslaughter, was sentenced to nine years in prison for manslaughter and four-and-a-half years for robbery to run concurrently at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday.

Lintott, who was found guilty of robbery and manslaughter following a seven-day trial at Peterborough Crown Court, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for manslaughter and six years for robbery to run concurrently.

There were gasps from the public gallery as Lintott's sentence was read out.

In a victim impact statement Mrs Qasemi, who was 20 weeks pregnant when her husband was attacked, said her husband was the "backbone" of the family.

She watched the sentencing over a video link from another room as she had her eight-week-old baby with her.

Mrs Qasemi, whose elder sons are aged seven and 11 years old, said: "I will never overcome the pain and hurt of losing him in such a tragic way."

She added: "The fact our baby won't be able to see him to hold his hand breaks my heart."

Mr Qasemi was a refugee who fled war in Afghanistan, Mrs Qasemi said, adding that her husband's attackers were "pure evil".

"No matter how far you run to get away from war, you can't get away from evil," she said.

Lawson, dressed in a grey T-shirt and tracksuit bottoms, had given evidence against Lintott, dressed in a grey suit and tie, at the trial.

Sally Hobson, mitigating, said Lawson had two children, his partner was expecting a third and he had written a letter of apology to Mrs Qasemi.

Peter Lownds, for Lintott, said the defendant's intention was to steal the pizzas, there was no prior discussion about punching and Lintott was of "low intelligence".

Both defendants had previous convictions including for violent crimes.

Judge David Farrell, sentencing, said that as Mr Qasemi lay dying, Lintott grabbed the pizzas and they both fled.

"Neither of you showed an ounce of concern for the welfare of the man you had been party to knocking to the ground," he said. "You both ate the pizzas, laughed and joked about what had just gone on."

Describing the incident as a "deliberately planned robbery" on a vulnerable lone worker, he told the defendants: "You have robbed a family of their father and a wife of her husband.

"You have robbed them of a hardworking and much-loved man. The harm that you have caused by your behaviour is of the highest level."

Lawson, formerly of Goodhale Road, Norwich, and Lintott, of Shrewsbury Court, Peterborough, remained emotionless as they were led down to the cells.

In a statement released after the hearing, senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson 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."