The Court of Appeal In New Zealand has rejected a Wellington killer’s attempt to reduce his jail time based on his claim his estranged wife was killed accidentally by impaling herself on his knife.
The judge who had sentenced Rajeshwar Singh to serve at least 16 years of a life imprisonment term had been told that Sarwan Lata’s last moments had been overheard.
She had managed to dial 111 when her husband, who had a domestic protection order against him, had broken into her home in the middle of the night in November 2013. Sarwan Lata obtained a domestic protection order against her estranged husband but he broke into her house and killed her. (File photo)
The phone line was open for 1min 33sec recording her screams, hysterical at first and becoming weaker as he stabbed her.
Singh, now 52, tried to kill himself after murdering his wife, but emergency services found him and he was revived. He was psychiatrically examined and found fit to plead but in need of anti-depressant medication.
Singh pleaded guilty to the murder charge and the Court of Appeal dismissed his first appeal against the sentence in late 2016.
Recently, acting for himself, he asked the court to reconsider the appeal. In a judgment issued on Friday, the court refused.
It said Singh was reasserting his claim that his wife was killed by accident when she impaled herself on the knife he was holding, and that at the time he was suffering from depression and stress.
Singh’s application fell far short of meeting the criteria for the court to reconsider its decision, the judgment said.
Singh’s points had already been considered in his first appeal. A killing that he compared to his, but resulted in less minimum jail time, was “readily distinguishable”, and Singh had other avenues open to him, such as asking the Supreme Court to hear his appeal, the judgment said.
The High Court was told that Lata feared her husband. She slept with a knife under a pillow beside her and a meat cleaver under the bed in her home in the Wellington suburb of Woodridge.
But the court-issued protection order, the weapons, the locks she had fitted after he finally moved out – even the obstacle course of vases and chairs she laid out at night – were not enough to save her.
When he came to kill her, Singh simply jumped a fence, picked up a paving stone and smashed the glass in the ranch slider that led directly to her bedroom. He reached through, unlocked the door and let himself in.
Singh later said the couple’s more than 20-year marriage had gone wrong since their son – who had muscular dystrophy – died in 2011.