A killer who left a disabled woman without her husband and an autisic boy without a dad has been jailed for life.

"Cool, calm and collected" killer Shafique Ahmad Aarij has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years for the murder of North Cheam man Andrew Iacovou at the Morden branch of Ladbrokes where he worked last May.

Sutton Guardian: Aarij on CCTV as he left the betting shop with blood on his face

A blood-splattered Aarij was caught leaving the Aberconway Road betting shop on CCTV

But Mr Iacovou's disabled wife Anita said she has been left not knowing how her family will cope in future if her condition worsens.

Homeless gambling addict Aarij, 22, went to the Aberconway Road branch of Ladbrokes with the intention of robbing it just before 8.30am on May 25 last year. Once inside he used a technique he practised the previous evening to lure Mr Iacovou, 55, out from the secure area behind the counter.

Once Mr Iacovou, of Church Hill Road, opened the door to the staff area Aarij burst in and attacked him, demanding money. When Mr Iacovou refused to hand over the cash, Aarij repeatedly hit him over the head with a claw hammer. During the frenzied attack Aarij landed up to eight blows in just 12 seconds.

Despite pressing the panic alarm, Mr Iacovou was left to die behind the counter in the shop to be found by a customer almost two hours later.

During this time Aarij, who came to the UK from Pakistan in 2012, fled on public transport, first by getting a bus to Hackbridge and then to Tooting where he wired some of the £300 he stole to Pakistan before heading to Stratford in east London. He was arrested after boarding a bus heading towards Ilford on May 30.

He admitted going to the betting shop armed with a decorator's knife and a hammer and said he attacked Mr Iacovou but was "not in his senses" at the time. He denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility but a jury took just 45 minutes to find him guilty after a trial at Southwark Crown Court last year.

CCTV showing Aarij making his getaway on buses, transferring the money to Pakistan and then buying a phonecard in Startford

Aarij was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court this morning. During the hearing the court heard a statement from Mr Iacovou wife, Anita. She said: "In the last seven years I have been disabled by a crippling illness which took away my mobility so Andrew gradually became my carer.

"My children Aryan, 10, and Rhitik, 14, miss all the things that their daddy did, like being picked up by him from school or being taken to the café. For them too life has changed. Rhitik is autistic and his world is completely upside down. Since his dad died he questions why someone would do this. He has become frightened of going outside and he doesn't want to leave the flat and struggles to cross the road or even catch a bus. He thinks someone will hurt him if he goes outside.

"I've watched his world get smaller and smaller in the last few months, he feels so unsafe in the world now. Andrew hoped that Rhitik would go to university but at the moment he can't even cross the road. That goal now seems a very long way off.

"For me the greatest fear is what will happen to the children if something happens to me and I end up in hospital, there is no one left to look after them."

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Leonard described Aarij as "cool, calm and collected" and added: "Having run out of money, you went somewhere where you had lost money to take it back."

Sutton Guardian:

Flowers left outside the mshop where Mr Iacovou was killed, which remains closed to this day

The judge said he acknowledged Aarij had some sort of "mental disturbance" but because he refused to allow his own psychiatrists to talk to his family in Pakistan to find out about treatment he received in his home country, it was hard to take it into account.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Eric Sword, of the homicide and major crime command, said: "This was an incredibly violent and unprovoked attack on a hard-working father-of-two - the level of violence was completely disproportionate to what the suspect sought to achieve which was robbing the shop.

"An initial hammer blow knocked the victim to the floor but Aarij continued to swing the weapon another eight times. He then calmly stepped over his victim in the hunt for cash.

"It is only right that Aarij will now serve many years behind bars."

Following Mr Iacovou's death, the Sutton Guardian set up the SafeBet campaign calling on the betting industry to improve conditions for its workers by ending the policy of single manning and making sure security measures like panic alarms and CCTV are monitored.

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