Sunday 26 January 2020

'Beverly Hills’ banker guilty of stabbing wife 124 times in front of son (4) after she demanded divorce

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Stock image

Nicola Harley

The parents of a mother stabbed to death by her banker husband in Britain's exclusive "Beverly Hills" estate say they helped build her dream home like Fort Knox to protect her only to discover the "danger was within".

Investment banker Sanjay Nijhawan has been found guilty of stabbing his wife 124 times in front of their four-year-old son after she demanded a divorce.

Care home director Sonita Nijhawan, 38, was attacked by her husband with an axe and a knife in their new home.

Jurors heard Mrs Nijhawan wanted to divorce her depressed husband shortly after he quit his job with Barclays Bank in London.

Nijhawan, 46, had waited for his wife to come downstairs in the early hours of the morning before he took the axe from his back pocket and attacked her in May.

Jurors heard that he accepted killing his wife but claimed it was on the grounds of diminished responsibility after his battle with depression spiralled out of control and he felt he had "no option" but to kill her.

Following a two week trial, jurors convicted Nijhawan of manslaughter on Friday.

Mrs Nijhawan's father Chander Parkash, 66, said in the days before the killing the couple had been planning a religious blessing for the home they had just moved into in Surrey.

"I supervised that building brick by brick," he said.

"We built that house like Fort Knox, with burglar alarms, fire alarms, security to keep her safe from the outside world but little did we know the danger was from the inside.

"I pray to God that no father should have to arrange their childs's funeral. Every morning I wake up and I see her face in front of my eyes.

"I wish more than anything to know the truth - why did this happen?"

He said he received a call from Nijhawan's mother who was concerned about him and he went to the house to check on them.

"I received a call from Sanjay's mum saying he was very emotional. I got to the house and asked their son, 'where's mama and dada?'," he added.

"When I went into the kitchen I saw what no father should have to see, my daughter lying in a pool of blood."

Jurors heard during the trial how she had told her husband that she wanted to leave him.

Faced with the prospect of losing his wife, Nijhawan researched "soft parts of the female skull" online.

Prosecutor Sally O'Neill said: "The number and nature of her cuts make it clear that she was the victim of a fatal and sustained attack. She had a very large number of cut and stab injuries to her neck and head.

"Sonita had 124 significant injuries to her body including 40 cut and blunt force injuries to her head, of which 18 were to the back of the head, 11 to the side and 10 to the left hand side of her skull. These were all likely to be caused by an axe.

"There were 25 stab wounds to left side of her neck, more likely to have been caused by a knife. The defendant was immediately taken St George's Hospital in Tooting."

A post-mortem examination revealed that the blows from the axe were carried out with a "severe" degree of force.

Her mother Nirmala Parkash, 62, said: "I'm Sonita's mother, I'm desperate to see her, to hold her, to hug her. I keep thinking of how I carried her when she was a baby. It feels like an organ has been ripped out of me.

"I keep thinking of if it my head, it is like a film. How afraid she must have felt. I feel it like a deep open wound, like an abyss which cannot be filled.

"I can't even look at pictures of her, I had to take photos down around the house because it is unbearable. I will have to live with this until I'm in my own coffin."

Nijhawan, of Crossfield Place, Weybridge, Surrey, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Monday.

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