Wife was aware of Kumar affair

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012
Shanal Sajesh Kumar
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
NOT GUILTY PLEA: Fijian-Indian Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, denies he murdered his lover, Indian-born Dipti Patel, 42, in the garage of her New Plymouth home three years ago.

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The wife of a man accused of murdering his older lover testified in his defence in the High Court at New Plymouth yesterday.

Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, a Fiji Indian, denies he murdered Dipti Patel, 42, in her Gaine St garage on April 7, 2009.

The Crown's case is that Kumar murdered the mother of two then made it appear she hanged herself with a skipping rope.

Yesterday Kumar's wife, Sarika Prasad, told the court through an interpreter what Kumar did during the days and weeks surrounding Mrs Patel's death and said she had not noticed him acting out of the ordinary.

The couple had an arranged marriage in Fiji, where they are from.

She said she joined Kumar in New Plymouth in December 2008 and a week or two later discovered his infidelity.

"I know it like this, there was an affair going on between her and my husband."

She said she noticed their home phone ringing every day.

"It used to start early in the morning and go on until 11pm at night."

When she picked up the phone, the caller would hang up, but when Kumar answered he would tell her he was talking to friends.

"He used to take the phone and go out and talk on the phone and sometimes he would go into another room and talk on the phone."

"I told him that whatever I have heard I have not like it and he will have to stop this. I told him: ‘If you do not put a stop to this affair I will return to Fiji'."

After that, the phone calls slowed down, and stopped altogether after Mrs Patel died.

Ms Prasad said on the weekend preceding April 7, 2009, she and Kumar's brother Sonal had fallen ill with coughs, colds and headaches, but were recovering by the time Kumar caught the bug early in the week.

She said Kumar went to work on Monday, 6 April, even though she told him not to.

"I was feeling he has come down with a fever because his temperature was showing that. I said to him: ‘If you are not feeling well you should not be going to work."

She said on Tuesday, the day Mrs Patel died, they had gone about their usual morning routine, both showering, her cooking breakfast and him praying in the corner of his brother's bedroom.

She said she could see he was still sick.

Then, because she holds only a learner drivers licence, Kumar drove her to work at Chalmers Rest Home around 7:45am.

They sat in the car for about 5 minutes while she told him he should not go to work.

She said he had a moustache at the time and was wearing his work clothes, black trousers, a black and yellow T-shirt, a jacket and work shoes.

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When the Crown prosecutor showed the court a photo of Kumar taken that day, but wearing jandals, Ms Prasad insisted he had been wearing shoes, because he always did when he was going to work.

The next time she saw him was in hospital after she finished her shift around 12pm.

She said she had seen him getting fluid through a drip and saw he had a hurt finger.

- Taranaki Daily News

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