Crossbow killer tells court 'I didn't mean to shoot my pregnant ex, I was just checking the safety latch'
PUBLISHED: 14:38 15 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:39 15 April 2019
A man accused of murdering his pregnant ex-wife with a crossbow claims the weapon went off accidentally while he was checking its safety latch, a court heard.
The Old Bailey today (April 15) heard that Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo accidentally shot Sana Muhammad, known as Devi Unmathallegadoo before her remarriage, on the stairs of her Applegarth Drive home when he was actually aiming to shoot a wooden bannister.
He told the court that he had hid out in the her garden shed the night before in order to “confront” her new partner Imtiaz about allegedly imposing his faith on his daughter against her will.
Defence barrister Ian Henderson asked Ram to explain why he decided to equip himself with crossbows ahead of speaking to Imtiaz on November 12.
“The crossbow was for my own safety basically,” he said.
“It was a deterrent so I didn't get attacked by Imtiaz.”
Asked why he did not simply knock on the front the door, he added: “I couldn't have because I was scared of Imtiaz. He is a big man and I couldn't confront him safely.
Ramanodge said he stowed away in the shed at around 11pm the night before, waiting for a moment when he could speak to Imtiaz one-to-one.
He was then disturbed be a “muffled sound” the next morning, the court heard.
The shed door was three quarter open and the crossbow leaning against.
“Having seen Imtiaz, I just froze as I was not expecting him there” he said. “Before I could say anything he just ran.”
Ramanodge said that he picked up the two crossbows and ran after him into the house, wanting him to stop so they could speak.
But he added that Imtiaz ran away before he had time to call out to him.
Mr Henderson also asked the defendant why he took two crossbows with him.
“I had them on me,” he simply stated. “And in case he took one, I could use the other.”
After pursuing Imtiaz through the house, Ramanodge said that he found him “pacing” up the stairs trying to get past his wife Sana and grabbing her left shoulder.
Ramanodge told the court he decided to shoot at the bannister, hoping that the sound of the bolt hitting the wood would make them stop running away.
“They were struggling with each other,” he said. “I wanted them to stop struggling and going away.”
“So I aimed my crossbow to the wooden part of the bannister.
“While I was holding it I didn't know if it was on safe.
“I had to look where the safety [latch] is. While I was checking my finger was already on the trigger.”
He explained that he had to move the crossbow slightly from left to right in order to check the safety latch.
“While I was doing that motion my finger was on it and it just went. It was the motion of my finger. I cannot explain it. It just went. It just fired.”
He clarified that he did want to the crossbow to be set to “fire” mode - but not in order to attack Sana or Imtiaz.
Mr Henderson asked Ramanodge to describe how he felt when he learned later, in police custody, that Sana had died of her injuries.
“I couldn't find the words to be honest,” he said, beginning to cry.
“I feel really really distraught at the thought that she got hurt because of me.
“I feel bad from the children, for Imtiaz himself and for his children and for Devi's family.”
Ramanodge acknowledged that cache of weapons - including harpoon spears - found by a passerby stashed near an electrical substation close to Applegarth on March 26 2018 did in fact belong to him.
But he explained he had only amassed his weapons cache to go on a hunting trip in Mauritius after reminiscing about the “good old days” with his brother who still lives there.
“It a very rudimentary way of life,” he said. “We would run after rabbits and birds just to catch them.”
He told the court how he had stored these weapons in the bush by the electrical substation while he slept rough there, thinking no one would find them beneath the dead leaves and litter.
He became homeless in mid-2014 - spending time sleeping rough in East Ham and Seven Kings, Newbury Park among other areas - but said wished to return to Mauritius and was saving up the money.
Asked why he chose to spend, in one instance, £258 on a crossbow while sleeping rough he added: “I was going to be pointless just sitting in Mauritius doing absolutely nothing.
“I would have been more bored. I was not going to Mauritius without these items.”
He said that he intended to ship these items to Mauritius and collect them at customs, claiming his chosen retailer would not deliver directly to his homeland.
Unmathallegadoo denies murder and attempted child destruction.
The trial continues.