Suspect's blood on sari, court told

NOT GUILTY: Shanal Kumar.
NOT GUILTY: Shanal Kumar.

Blood found on the sari of a dead Indian woman came from her former lover, a murder trial in the High Court at New Plymouth has heard.

Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, a Fiji Indian, denies he murdered Dipti Patel, 42.

The Crown's case is that Kumar murdered the mother of two in her Gaine St garage on April 7, 2009, then made it appear she hung herselfn with a skipping rope.

Photos shown to the jury on an overhead screen show Mrs Patel lying on her back in the garage, her arms outstretched and her legs bent up underneath her.

They show her fully clothed wearing a dark green sari and sweatshirt but no shoes.

Yesterday Dr Stephen John Cordiner, a forensic scientist from ESR (the Institute of Environmental Science and Research), told the court that when Mrs Patel's sari was examined, a bloodstain was visible in the middle.

The 2.5cm by 3.8cm bloodstain was cut out of the material and sent for DNA testing.

To Crown solicitor Cherie Clarke, Dr Cordiner confirmed that evidence would be heard in court today from another forensic scientist that the DNA was Kumar's.

The court has already heard evidence from Mrs Patel's family and friends that she changed her sari at least daily.

No DNA profile could be obtained from what appeared to be blood staining on one of the resin skipping rope handles.

To defence counsel Peter Winter, Dr Cordiner agreed he did not attend the scene when Mrs Patel died.

"No I just saw photos of the scene."

Dr Cordiner, who spent much of his time in the witness box giving measurements of the two ends of the skipping rope, told Mr Winter it was outside his area of expertise as to whether the length of the resin rope might vary over time.

When Mrs Patel was found in the garage, one end of the rope was loosely knotted around a garage truss and the other end was tightly knotted around her neck.

Each still had the yellow skipping rope handles attached.

To cross-examination from Mr Winter, Detective Christopher Allan, the officer in charge of the murder scene, agreed he had interviewed the accused's wife, Sarika Prasad, at their home on Downe St about 4.30pm on the day Mrs Patel died.

She told him she worked at Chalmers Rest Home on Octavius Pl. The accused dropped her off at 7.55am and she was picked up from work by the accused's brother, Sonal Kumar.

She then went to Taranaki Base Hospital to meet up with her husband, waited for the accused to be checked over, and left with him when he was discharged about 1.30pm.

Mr Winter said the accused's brother would tell the court that the accused arrived home between 8.20am and 8.40am that day. His brother was weak and dizzy. He took him to hospital at 9.30am.

Mr Allan said there was no sign of a struggle at the death scene.

Pathologist James Hunt had examined the ligature around Mrs Patel's neck and Mr Allan wrote in his notebook that Dr Hunt said the point of suspension was typical of hanging.

Taranaki Daily News