London: A 51-year-old man found guilty of killing his Indian-origin ex-wife while she was pregnant by firing a crossbow at her has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 33 years before parole in London on Friday.
Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, originally from Mauritius, planned the attack on his 35-year-old ex-wife Devi a.k.a. Sana Muhammad who was eight months pregnant in November last year. Handing down the sentence at the Old Bailey court, Judge Mark Lucraft described it as a brutal and evil attack, which could have also claimed the life of Devi's new husband.
One can only assume that you were jealous of their life together and the fact that they had formed a loving bond between themselves and with your children, he told Unmathallegadoo.
Armed with two crossbows, Unmathallegadoo had hidden himself inside the shed at the end of the garden of the east London home where Devi lived with husband Imtiaz and five children as Sana Muhammad after converting to Islam.
An arrow, which measured 18 inches, entered the victim in her hip and travelled up through her body. It missed the unborn baby, a boy delivered by emergency Cesarean section in hospital later.
"Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo is now likely to spend the majority of the rest of his life in prison. This is the appropriate punishment for the cold and calculated way in which he killed his ex-wife, Sana Muhammad, said Detective Sergeant Amjad Sharif of the Metropolitan Police, who led the investigation.
"The fact Sana's unborn baby managed to survive was due to extreme fortune and the skill of the medical staff who treated her at the scene and at the hospital. The baby is now a healthy one-year-old. However, he will grow up without a mother, as will his five siblings," he said.
The court was told that the victim was treated by paramedics from the London Ambulance Service (LAS) before being taken to hospital. An emergency caesarean was carried out to deliver the baby, who was initially not breathing but was revived by the medical staff. Despite efforts to save her life, Devi's injuries caused to her internal organs, including her stomach, liver and heart, led to her suffering a heart attack.
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Soole, the senior investigating officer for the investigation, added: My hope is that this sentence will be the start of what no doubt will be a long journey to recovery.
"I would also like to thank all members of my major investigation team who worked tirelessly on this case, which included accurately interpreting hundreds of documents, carrying out dozens of witness interviews and collating thousands of hours of CCTV, all whilst they continued to handle a number of other challenging investigations."
A post-mortem established the cause of Sana Muhammad's death as complications arising from internal bleeding. Unmathallegadoo was arrested at the scene and an investigation by detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Major Crime Command revealed he had started making preparations for the attack several months earlier.
Unmatahallegadoo did not answer any questions when he was interviewed by police. During the trial, he told the jury that he had been aiming the crossbow at the bannister and had not meant to kill his ex-wife. But the jury found him guilty of the murder following a trial last week.
In a statement, Imtiaz Muhammad, spoke of his grief at losing his wife, who he said was a very outgoing, bubbly and friendly person.
She was my soul mate, my best friend, my wife, my companion and my everything and I love her dearly, he said.
The court heard the couple's relationship had ended in 2012 after an incident of domestic violence. Sana, then Devi, had successfully filed for an emergency non-molestation order which barred her ex-husband from coming within 100 metres of the family home. The order was still in place at the time of her attack.