Ex-husband convicted of killing Indian-origin woman in UK arrow attack

Aditi Khanna

London, Nov 22 (PTI) A 51-year-old man, who was on trial for killing his heavily pregnant Indian-origin ex-wife by firing a crossbow at her, has been convicted of her murder by a court here on Friday.

Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, originally from Mauritius, planned the attack on his 35-year-old ex-wife Devi who was eight months pregnant in November last year, the Old Bailey court was told.

Armed with two crossbows, Unmathallegadoo had hidden himself inside the shed at the end of the garden of the east London home where Devi lived with husband Imtiaz and five children as Sana Muhammad after converting to Islam.

An arrow, which measured 18 inches, entered the victim in her hip and travelled up through her body. It missed the unborn baby, a boy delivered by emergency Cesarean section in hospital later.

'The injuries suffered by Sana as a result of the arrow penetrating 14 inches into her body were catastrophic,' said Detective Sergeant Amjad Sharif, who led the murder investigation for Scotland Yard.

'The force of the crossbow bolt caused damage to her intestines, stomach, liver and heart. It is clear the crossbow used to kill Sana, which was legally bought and owned by Unmathallegadoo, was intended to be used as a lethal weapon. He had in fact bought a number of crossbows in recent years and appeared to be building up his arsenal of weaponry in the months before Sana was killed,' he said.

A post-mortem established the cause of Sana's death as complications arising from internal bleeding.

Unmathallegadoo was arrested at the scene and an investigation by detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Major Crime Command revealed he had started making preparations for the attack several months earlier.

A handwritten note found in a jacket belonging to Unmathallegadoo suggested he had conducted surveillance on the east London address in Ilford where Sana lived with her husband and five other children – three from her marriage to Unmathallegadoo and two with her second husband.

Detective Sharif, who described the case as 'harrowing', noted: 'At a time when she should have been happily looking forward to the birth of her new child, Sana Muhammad was killed in cold blood by her ex-husband, Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo'.

'Driven by feelings of bitterness and jealousy towards his ex-wife, who had remarried and started a new life, the defendant fired a crossbow, loaded with an 18-inch arrow. Sana, who was eight-months pregnant, had been running away up the stairs and posed absolutely no risk to him. By extreme fortune, the arrow missed the unborn baby,' the officer said.

When detectives searched the shed after the arrest, they discovered a selection of crossbow arrows, a black rucksack containing toiletries and personal items as well as a pair of scissors and a roll of duct tape. There was also a chart marking the dates and times of the movements of occupants of the house.

Unmatahallegadoo did not answer any questions when he was interviewed by police. During the trial, he told the jury that he had been aiming the crossbow at the bannister and had not meant to kill his ex-wife. But the jury found him guilty of the murder and he will be sentenced at the same court next Friday.

In a statement, Imtiaz spoke of his grief at losing his wife, who he said was a very outgoing, bubbly and friendly person.

'She was my soul mate, my best friend, my wife, my companion and my everything and I love her dearly,' he said.

'Ram must have been very jealous of the life Sana and I had and that we were living a happy life. Sana was feeling scared since Ram had started seeing the kids. She would always say 'Ram does not forgive and forget' he likes to create trouble no matter if he loses everything,' he added.

Her mother Ellemah (Joytee) Sutharamandoo said the killing of her only daughter had left her feeling alone with overwhelming sadness.

The court heard the couple's relationship had ended in 2012 after an incident which led to her jumping out of an upstairs window. Sana, then Devi, had successfully filed for an emergency non-molestation order which barred her ex-husband from coming within 100 metres of the family home. The order was still in place at the time of her attack. PTI AK MRJ AKJ MRJ