A 16-year-old boy has appeared at Willesden magistrates court charged with the murder of a shop worker.

The suspect, who has not been named by police, was arrested after the death of father-of-two Vijay Patel, 49.

Mr Patel was hit in the chest with a single blow after a colleague refused to sell cigarette papers to three teenage boys at a convenience store in Mill Hill, north London, as he suspected they were underage.

The blow sent Mr Patel to the ground where he suffered a fatal head wound.

The boys had visited the shop on The Broadway in Mill Hill late on Saturday 6 January.

They fled the scene after punching the shop’s owner, who suffered minor injuries.

Mr Patel was given first aid by members of the public before police and paramedics arrived.

Police found him lying on the pavement outside the shop when they arrived just before midnight.

According to his family, Vijay Patel had moved to London from India in 2006 to make a better life for his wife Vibha and their two sons.

His brother, Prakash, 47, commented: “He was the greatest man in the world. He died trying to protect the shop.

“He worked all hours to fund his sons’ education costs and worked very hard to support the family.”

Mill Hill residents said they were shocked such an attack could happen in a largely ‘tight-knit, quiet middle class’ community.

Police are continuing to appeal for information from potential witnesses.

Anyone with information should call 020 8358 0200, or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.