Mystery caller boasted of affair

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.
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.

The husband of a New Plymouth woman found dead in a garage was instantly worried when phone calls home went unanswered the morning of her death.

Dipti Patel, 42, was found dead by her husband of 19 years in their New Plymouth garage on April 7, 2009.

Mrs Patel's former lover, Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

On the third day of a High Court jury trial in New Plymouth, Mukesh Patel told the court he went to work that morning, leaving his wife to welcome a valuer who was to assess their home.

Mr Patel called the house about four times to check the valuer had arrived, and when he did not receive a response, he became nervous.

"I came home to check what was happening. Normally when Dipti drops the children off at school she comes straight home and she knew the valuer was coming at 9am. So when she didn't pick up I got worried," Mr Patel said.

When he arrived home, Mrs Patel was nowhere to be found, so he called the valuer to ask if he had visited.

"He said I came to your property but there was somebody there who told me we don't want anything done, so I returned to the office," Mr Patel recalled.

Not knowing what to do, he called a friend and they went to the police station to lodge a complaint.

On their return, they realised they had not yet checked the garage and went to see if Mrs Patel was there.

"Dipti was lying down on the floor of the garage," Mr Patel said.

He immediately told police.

It was originally thought Mrs Patel hanged herself using a skipping rope, tying one end around her neck and the other loosely around a garage truss.

Mrs Clarke yesterday questioned Mr Patel about his wife's ability to tie knots.

"She did not know much about tying knots," he said.

"If anything was broken that needed a knot, she would call me."

Knot expert Robert Chisnall, Canada, will give evidence about the rope later in the trial.

Mr Patel learned of his wife's relationship with Kumar when he confronted her after receiving a phone call at work.

The caller told him his wife was a dirty woman and of a very low character.

Prior to leaving for work that night, Mr Patel said he had caught his wife talking to someone on the phone, but, she had denied it.

Mr Patel said he had received another call from the same man, boasting that he had had more sex with Mrs Patel than Mr Patel had in their 18-year marriage.

Yesterday the court was told Mrs Patel often attended Indian spiritual gatherings called bhajans. Defence counsel Peter Winter asked Mr Patel if he was aware his wife had met her former lover at one of these gatherings.

"In the last three days before she passed, she told me that's where she met the man," Mr Patel said.

Mr Winter asked whether it was shameful within traditional Gujarati society, to which the Patels belong, for a married woman to have an affair. "It is an even greater shame, isn't it, in the Gujarati society for that affair to have started at a bhajan," he asked.

"It's not only for the Gujarati community, it's bad that it happens anywhere for any community. But I agree, because it happened at the bhajan it's not very good," Mr Patel said.

He said his wife, with whom he had an arranged marriage, appeared to be in a normal mood the morning of her death.

Taranaki Daily News