Valentine wife killer appeal rejected

Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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A man who stabbed his estranged wife to death on Valentine's Day has lost an appeal against his murder conviction and sentence, where he repeated a claim he was driven insane by the pressures of his marriage.

Uday Krishnakant Desai, 49, flew to Auckland from Australia in February last year on a one way ticket with no luggage, after selling all his belongings.

When he arrived he bought a screwdriver set and a box cutter knife from a supermarket. The next day - Valentines Day- he broke into his wife's home, dragged her outside and repeatedly stabbed her in the neck in front of neighbours who tried to fight him off.

As he did so, he said he had completed his ''mission".

At his trial he claimed he only came to New Zealand to find work and talk to his wife. He said he had only bought the screwdriver and knife to add to his tool set.

He also said he had been suffering temporary insanity because of the ''overwhelming pressures'' of his failed marriage of 27 years.

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
 
Desai had represented himself at the trial. One of his grounds of appeal was that the trial had been unfair because he had no lawyer. He also said that a police interview, where he confessed to murder, had been similarly unfair because he had no lawyer present.

But the Court of Appeal said Desai had refused a lawyer in the police interview and, despite being granted legal aid, sacked the one assigned to him for the trial.

The Appeal judges said: ''The prosecution case against Mr Desai was very strong. He did not deny killing his wife.  There were no medical grounds to support either insanity or a defence of automatism and provocation was not available. There was ample evidence of murderous intent.''

They dismissed all aspects of his appeal.

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