June 29, 2010 9:51:29 am
An Indian national,who brutally beat his wife to death after abusing her for years,was on Tuesday sentenced to 17 years in jail by the Victorian Supreme Court.
Sukhmander Singh,who pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Mohinder Kaur,was jailed for 17 years and was ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years and six months.
While announcing the verdict,Judge Terry Forrest said the accused had no remorse for his actions.
Mohinder was beaten to death with a wooden stake by Singh on the Valley Lake Boulevard at Niddrie on May 7,2009.
The accused followed his wife Mohinder who came to Australia from India in 2008 because of years of physical abuse and being falsely accused of having affairs by him.
The couple had four children and their daughter Sarabjit Kaur,21,was studying in Melbourne.
Sarabjit had arranged for her mother to obtain a visa and five months later in March last year she also arranged for her father to join them after he assured of a good behaviour.
Justice Terry Forrest said that Singh’s conduct towards his family improved significantly after he arrived in Melbourne in early March.
However,his behaviour deteriorated and last May he attacked his wife while taking a stroll on Valley Lake Boulevard in Niddrie suburb in Melbourne’s northwest.
“What followed then was a brutal conclusion to your wife’s life,” Forrest said.
“Mohinder was crying and told Sarabjit that you had taken a wooden stick from the ground. She heard what sounded like a crack,and last words she heard her mother utter were: ‘Neena,your father is killing me,” Forrest told Singh.
Singh’s daughter Sarabjit testified that as long as she could remember there was fighting and argument between Singh and his wife,the Age reported.
“The children would stay outside the house crying while you set about beating their mother,” Judge told Singh.
“For cultural reasons I am unable to comprehend,these beatings were not reported to the police,” Forrest said,adding “Sarabjit states that over the last few years the fighting and beatings became considerably worse. You would kick your wife,hit her and use objects to inflict pain upon her.”
The court heard Singh would abuse his wife almost every day and the physical beatings would happen almost once a week.
Kaur had given evidence that she moved to Australia in 2007 to get away from her father but her mother could not leave because of her younger brother and sister in India.
“She (Sarabjit) spoke to her mother regularly and recounted her mother’s distress over her father’s accusations of her affairs,” Forrest said,adding “she also recounts the belief that Mohinder held that you would end up killing her.”
The court also heard that Singh’s behaviour was accompanied by an “extraordinary consumption of alcohol and perhaps opium” which included a bottle of whiskey a day and at least up to two kilograms of opium poppy husks each month.
Mohinder sought help in Australia to remove her mother from the violent environment and a 12-month tourist visa was arranged without her husband’s knowledge.
She arrived in the country in October 2008 and spent some happy and fulfilling months with her daughter,the court heard.
“Some months later after extracting a promise from you that you would not drink,your daughter arranged for you to come to Australia,” Forrest told Singh.
During his stay,the family arranged for Singh to spend time at the Sikh temple in Cragieburn where they endeavoured to treat his alcohol addiction with prayer.
But Forrest said Singh’s mood changed and he again falsely accused his wife of having affairs.
The following day he went for a walk with his wife after dinner. “At approximately 5 p.m. you and Mohinder left the house in Newsman Crescent,Niddrie to walk towards the lake a short distance away,” the judge said.
“Your daughter telephoned Mohinder at 6.24 pm. Mohinder was crying and told Sarabjit that you had taken a wooden stick from the ground. She heard what sounded like a crack and the last words she heard her mother utter were: ‘Neena,your father is killing me’.”
Forrest described the attack as a “brutal conclusion” to his wife’s life. “You beat her with a large heavy stake until she was dead.”
A forensic pathologist described multiple skull and facial bone fractures among other injuries and estimated a minimum of three or four blows to the scalp-forehead region with further blows to the mid-facial and neck area.
“In short,you beat your wife,the mother of your children,to a pulp,” the judge said.
Forrest said he was satisfied Singh’s alcohol abuse and opium use had substantially compromised his memory and attention,learning capabilities,conceptual flexibility,behaviour,planning and organisation,problem solving and decision-making capabilities.
“I accept that your final actions towards your wife were unplanned… but it cannot be overlooked that this murder was the culmination of a long history of brutality towards your wife,” he said.
The judge was not satisfied that Singh had any remorse for his actions,which he said might be due to his “organic brain damage and/or your psychiatric illness”.
Singh sat quietly with his hands clasped as he listened to an interpreter who translated Justice Forrest’s sentencing remarks before he was taken away by court security.
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