Man jailed for murdering wife

Last updated 10:54 05/06/2014
Rajeshwar Singh
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
JAILED: Rajeshwar Singh as he was sentenced for the murder of his wife Sarwan Lata at the High Court in Wellington today.

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A Wellington man has been sentenced to serve at least 16 years of a life term of imprisonment for the murder of his wife, Sarwan Lata.

Rajeshwar Singh, 47, pleaded guilty last month to murdering his estranged wife on November 26, in breach of a protection order and while already on bail for breaching the order. 

In the High Court at Wellington today Justice Ronald Young said he accepted Singh had been deeply affected and depressed after his son died in 2011 but it was the attitude to his wife that was primarily behind the murder.

"You simply could not accept she had a right to decide not to be with you," the judge said.

"Your wife was perfectly entitled to choose not to live with you."

As well as killing his wife Singh was breaching the terms of his bail not to contact her, and a protection order first made in 2008. The couple did not start living apart permanently until about a month before Lata was killed.

He had smashed his way into her house and stabbed her to death, then tried to killed himself.

Prosecutor Ian Murray said it was another tragic example of the scourge of serious domestic violence in this country.

The last few minutes of Ms Lata's life must have been terrifying,  he said. She had heard the breaking glass and phoned emergency services. 

Singh's lawyer Robert Stevens said Singh had been suffering from depression without treatment  since his son had died in 2011. The boy had muscular dystrophy.

Since his arrest Singh had been supported well and given medication and he had made significant progress, Stevens said.

Although a probation officer's report said Singh had a callous disregard for his wife and did not feel real remorse, Stevens said Singh was beginning to realise the enormity of what he had done.

Members of Lata's family in court for the sentencing did not want to speak afterwards but Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said they were extremely shocked and saddened by the loss of Sarwan Lata but they were satisfied with the result of the court case and pleased they did not have to face a trial.

Police had dealings with Singh and his wife over the years and police would be reviewing their own actions and whether anything should have been done differently, Leitch said.

He acknowledged the protection orders had been ineffective. "Mr Singh breached the orders, he breached his bail, he returned with the express intent of murdering his ex-wife.

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"In this case Sarwan did everything she could, she changed the locks, she set up warnings for her in the house in case someone came in. She was living in real fear for her life."

"She thought she had done everything she could."

But Singh was a very determined man and was going to kill her regardless, Leitch said.

"At the end of the day a protection order is a piece of paper and it requires the will of all to make sure that people adhere to these protection orders and coupled with that is strong enforcement and the police do take protection orders very seriously."

- The Dominion Post

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