Man charged for murdering shop assistant NRI Rina Panchal in Leicester
Leicester, UK, Jan 07, 2007
NRI Rina Panchal, 26, shop assistant was stabbed to death. She was repeatedly knifed shortly after arriving at the TK Maxx store in Thurmaston, near Leicester. The attacker fled on a bicycle. The Leicester Police said Mrs Panchal, of nearby Birstall, was stabbed several times just after 8am – an hour before the store was due to open. She was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary but was pronounced dead.
The attacker, William Otim Alikori, 31, of Leicester, handed himself in to police shortly after the incident on Wednesday morning. The attacke is thought to be a cleaner at the store, is due to appear before magistrates in the city this morning.
Her husband, Jayant Panchal said, “Rina was not only my wife, she was also a very loving sister, daughter and auntie to other members of our family. She was a brave, sweet, fun-loving person. She had a bubbly personality, and apart from being my wife she was also my best friend. Everyone who came into contact with her left with a smile. She had many friends within the community and will be sadly missed by all who knew her.”
Detective Superintendent Martin Morrissey, said: ‘Mrs Panchal’s family are understandably devastated by her death and are being supported by police family liaison officers.
TK Maxx managing director Paul Sweetenham said Mrs Panchal had been employed there since the shop opened just under a year ago. He said: “She was always cheerful and bright. Her positive and warm outlook made her a very popular colleague, and she will be deeply missed.”
Vice-president Deborah Dolce added: “We are closing the store for the next few days as a mark of respect. We feel it is the right thing to do.”
TK Maxx is a U.S.-owned discount clothing store with almost 200 stores across the UK and Ireland. It specialises in selling cut-price designer clothing, furnishings and footwear.
- Rina Panchal
An independent inquiry has been ordered into the stabbing to death of a shop worker two years ago.
Rina Panchal, 26, from Birstall, died after a frenzied attack on her at the TK Maxx store, in Thurmaston, on January 3, 2007.
Her killer, William Otim Alikori, 31, a contract cleaner at the store, gave himself up to police, but hanged himself about three weeks later while on remand in Leicester prison.
Mr Alikori, said to be a Ugandan asylum-seeker who came to Britain on a six-month visa in 2001, had been under the care of the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, which runs mental health services, for four months before the attack.
He had been admitted to the trust’s Brandon Unit at Leicester General Hospital.
NHS East Midlands, the strategic health authority responsible for overseeing NHS services, has now ordered an independent investigation surrounding the incident and its findings will be published later this year.
The independent investigation has been ordered after NHS East Midlands received findings from an internal inquiry which they felt needed to be looked into further by an outside body.
Campaigners today called for the latest probe to be dealt with swiftly.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said: “It has been more than two years since Rina was brutally killed. I very much hope this investigation will at least provide her family with some answers as to the circumstances surrounding her death.”
Geoffrey Smith, from the Leicester Mercury Patients’ Panel, said: “In the best interests of everyone, I would urge the strategic health authority to bring this matter to a conclusion as quickly as possible.”
It is the third such inquiry to be ordered after deaths involving mental health patients in Leicester.
The others are an investigation into the death of Karen Godden, 51, who was stabbed to death by paranoid schizophrenic Kelvin Trenfield in Rowlatts Hill, Leicester, in August 2007 and the case of Gemma Montanaro, formerly of Grace Gardens, Aylestone, a mental health patient who drove a car which hit and killed Jane Ann Malkin, 51, and Nichole Townsend, 24, in Saffron Lane, in January 2007.
Findings of an internal inquiry carried out by the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust into the Rina Panchal case have not yet been released.
They are due to be published when an inquest into Mr Alikori’s death has been held.
However, a spokeswoman for the trust said changes are being made to improve services.
Initial findings show Mr Alikori was put on a waiting list to be seen by the trust’s PIER service (psychosis intervention and early recovery) at the beginning of September 2006. He was eventually seen on December 6 – a month before the attack.
Christine Palmer, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust spokeswoman, said: “In late 2006 and early 2007, when the incident happened, the PIER service was not funded to function at full capacity. Now it is fully funded and functioning.
“New patients are assessed straight away by the service.”
She said as a result of the incident, several new managers have been brought in.
These include a ward manager to make sure record keeping is up to date and there is improved care planning for patients along with better assessment of potential risk involving patients.
She said the trust welcomed an independent inquiry.