Man found 'not guilty'

Shanal Kumar
Shanal Kumar

A jury has found murder-accused Shanal Kumar not guilty of strangling his older lover to death.

The jury in the High Court in New Plymouth returned after just 2 1/4 hours to find the 29-year-old not guilty of murdering Dipti Patel, 42, on April 7 2009 in her garage.

The jury heard more than four weeks' evidence - many of it from expert witnesses brought by the Crown.

After retiring just before midday, the jury returned to court to watch part of  Kumar's first DVD police interview  and returned just after 3pm with their decision.

The Crown case was that Kumar strangled the mother-of-two who had spurned him and he then tried to conceal it as a suicide.

But the jury agreed with the defence that the Crown had not proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.

Defence counsel Peter Winter had argued that his client was not the man seen in the garage where Mrs Patel was found.

Instead he said she either killed herself or her husband could have murdered her when he came home from work or had her killed.

The officer in charge of the case, Sergeant Mike Thorne, said outside court police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the case.