Wife was murdered, says husband

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012
Shanal Sajesh Kumar
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
NOT GUILTY: Shanal Kumar.

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Dipti Patel's husband says his wife was murdered and he did not do it.

"I couldn't do bad things to her. We were a very close family," Mukesh Patel told the Taranaki Daily News.

Mr Patel found his wife dead on the floor of the family's garage 2 years ago.

Police accused her lover, Shanal Kumar, of strangling her. But in the High Court at New Plymouth last week, the jury found Kumar, now 29, not guilty of her murder.

Defence lawyer Peter Winter pointed the finger at Mr Patel, saying he was angry at being duped, that he said everything he had worked for had been destroyed.

Either her husband killed her, he had her murdered or she killed herself, Mr Winter told the jury.

In any case, Mr Winter argued that the Crown had not proved its case.

Speaking to the Taranaki Daily News this week, Mr Patel said he believed police had left no stone unturned to prove the case.

"They did everything. The Crown did a good job. I'm not happy with that [not guilty] decision," Mr Patel said.

He was aware that the acquittal left the finger pointing at him but he said he now wanted to put the pain of his wife's tragic death behind him.

"I'd like to forget everything. She was my missus. I couldn't do bad things to her."

After the disclosure of her affair, the couple had been working through a separation with the support of the Gujarati community in New Plymouth.

"I believe she was murdered, but I didn't take it to court, the police took it to court. They tried everything."

Mr Patel said his wife, who friends described to the court as an excellent caring mother and a vivacious, helpful and friendly woman, would be proud of how well their two sons were doing.

She was a fulltime mother and after the separation was to have custody of the boys.

The family still lives in the same house and Mr Patel continues to work at Fitzroy Engineering and intends staying in New Plymouth.

He is philosophical about his wife's affair. "Everyone makes mistakes."

The trial heard that police continued to investigate Mrs Patel's death after suspicions were raised when a young Indian-looking man was seen in the garage on April 7, 2009, the day she died.

Several experts told the court they believed it was highly likely the evidence pointed at Mrs Patel being murdered by strangulation and that the scene was then staged as a hanging.

After the verdict, Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward, head of New Plymouth CIB, said the jury's decision was the end of the case.

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"It was a long, thorough investigation and required the expertise of a number of people.

"I believe we put a true and accurate case to the court."

"We are not looking for anyone else.

"That will be the end of the investigation from our perspective," Mr Coward said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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