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Murder victim Andrew Iacovou's grieving widow backs our Safe Bet campaign
A grieving widow whose husband was brutally murdered while working on his own in a betting shop the our SafeBet campaign.
The Sutton Guardian and Wimbledon Guardian are calling on the betting industry to improve staff safety in the wake of the murder of North Cheam man Andrew Iacovou at the Morden branch of Ladbrokes he managed last year.
Blood-stained muderer Aarij was caught leaving the shop on CCTV
Killer Shafique Aarij attacked the 55-year-old father of three during a robbery-gone-wrong at the Aberconway Road bookies in May.
He hit him over the head with a hammer up to eight times in 12 seconds and then fled with money from the counter.
Aarij was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 26 years on Monday. The judge at Southwark Crown Court called him a "cool, calm and collected" killer.
In planning to rob the shop, Aarij banked on Mr Iacovou being alone in the shop. It meant he could trick him into opening the door to the secure area behind the counter under the ruse that something had gone wrong with a machine.
Now this newspaper group is calling on the betting industry to improve safety for staff by ending the practice of 'single manning' shops and now Mr Iacovou's widow Anita Iacovou, mother to two of his children, Aryan, 10, and Rhitik, 13, has backed our SafeBet campaign.
She said: "I want something good to come from this if it is possible. It will help not only one person, but everyone in the industry. If Andrew was not working alone, this would not have happened - they should never single man these shops.
"He had problems when he worked in the Tudor Drive [in North Cheam] office with gamblers but when he moved to the Morden branch it was much worse.
"He had to tell people they had to leave and when he did that they would threaten him. He was worried."
A spokesman for Ladbrokes said it has improved its procedures in the wake of the incident but said it had no plans to change staffing levels.
Mr Iacovou pressed an alarm as he was being attacked and this triggered a CCTV feed from the shop to be shown in a central security office but the spokesman said the angle of the camera meant staff saw nothing amiss.
The shop where Mr Iacovou died has been closed since the murder but Ladbrokes said it will be up to Mr Iacovou's family as to whether it reopens.
Mrs Iacovou said: "We have said we want it to be open but to be open in memory of Andrew – there should be something saying the shop is a memorial to him so everyone can see what happened there.
"But it could never be single manned, there must always be two people there at least."
Mrs Iacovou told the Guardian she, Aryan and Rhitik found Christmas and New Year very difficult. She added: "[The children] have found a little relief from the sentence. They are both happy he won't be out for 25 years. They will be adults by then.
"We want him to be deported when he has served his sentence but that will be up to whoever is in Government in 25 years.
"Lots of people have been saying he should be deported, he shouldn't be taking taxpayers money."
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