Valentine's Day killer jailed for life

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 10:17 17/05/2012

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A Brisbane man who flew to New Zealand and murdered his estranged wife on Valentine's Day last year will spend at least 17 years in jail.

Uday Desai, 48, was found guilty in March of murdering his wife of 27 years Titiksha Desai, 45, at her east-Auckland home on the night of February 14, 2011.

He was also found guilty of threatening to kill and assaulting neighbours who came to the woman's aid.

Desai was sentenced today to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

He defended himself at trial in the High Court at Auckland and today made his own submissions at sentencing.

Desai said because he represented himself in court, he was unable to show remorse.

He said it depended on whether he was using his mind or his heart: when his mind triggered he remembered what his wife did, when his heart triggered he experienced "love, care, sacrifice".

He continued to assert that he did not come to New Zealand intending to kill his wife.

Prosecutor Aaron Perkins told Justice Mark Woolford the Crown was "seldom able to present such compelling evidence of a planned killing".

Desai sold his possessions in Australia and flew to New Zealand with no luggage on a one-way ticket.

Upon arrival he bought a retractable-razor craft knife and the next night, broke into Titiksha's home by breaking a glass panel on her front door.

He murdered his wife by slashing her neck with the knife.

He tried to attack neighbours who came to intervene and after he was restrained he told them: "I've done my job. She will die." 

"It was quite clear he was making no secret of the fact he was trying, to use his words, to put his wife down," Perkins told the court.

The judge said Desai came to New Zealand a few months before the murder with the intent of killing his wife.

He could not bring himself to do it and returned to Australia.

Justice Woolford said the murder was a "heinous assault" that triggered Section 104 of the Sentencing Act meaning a 17-year minimum period was mandatory.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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