Crossbow killer insists weapons stockpile was for hunting rabbits and birds, court hears
- Credit: Archant
A man accused of murdering his pregnant ex-wife with a crossbow insists he bought his weapons stockpile to relive “the good old days” hunting back home in Mauritius, a court heard.
Old Bailey jurors were told on Monday, April 15 that Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo killed Sana Muhammad, known as Devi Unmathallegadoo before her remarriage, with a crossbow in her home in Applegarth Drive, Newbury Park.
Giving evidence, Mr Unmathallegadoo told jurors he really intended to shoot the wooden bannister of the stairs she was standing on but accidentally fired at her while checking to see if the weapon’s safety latch was on.
He told the court he had stowed away in his ex-wife’s garden shed on November 11 waiting for a good moment to “confront” her new partner Imtiaz.
He accused Imtiaz of allegedly imposing his Islamic faith on his daughter against her will.
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“She was forced to eat halal food and she was forced to wear non-European clothes,” the defendant told the court.
He had taken crossbows as a “deterrent to stop him from getting attacked” as he was “scared” of Imtiaz, he said.
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After falling asleep in the shed, Mr Unmathallegadoo said he was unexpectedly woken up by Imtiaz on the morning of November 12.
“Having seen Imtiaz, I just froze as I was not expecting him there,” he said. “Before I could say anything he just ran.”
Mr Unmathallegadoo grabbed his two crossbows and gave chase, he said.
As Imtiaz and Sana clambered up the stairs, he said he tried to fire a shot at the bannister “to stop them struggling and going away”.
But the shot hit his ex-wife, who later died from her injuries.
The court heard Mr Unmathallegadoo’s weapons stockpile - including two crossbows and harpoon spears - was found by a passer-by in the bushes by an electrical substation near his former wife’s home in March last year.
He told jurors he bought the weapons to ship them to Mauritius after reminiscing about “the good old days” with his brother.
But during cross-examination, prosecutor Peter Wright QC put it to him that this was evidence he “had been planning to shoot his former wife with a crossbow for a very long time”.
“That is why, at the very earliest in November 2017, you had armed yourself with two crossbows,” Mr Wright said.
“No,” Mr Unmathallegadoo replied.
Mr Wright quizzed the defendant on why he never made any inquiries as to whether this equipment could be obtained in Mauritius.
Mr Unmathallegadoo said: “Not this kind. They were well made. You don’t get well-made stuff in Mauritius.”
Mr Wright continued: “So, you bought them completely blind? Did you say to your brother, what kind of harpoons do you like?”
“No because he has already seen it before,” the defendant replied.
Mr Wright responded: “So you invested in two harpoons without asking which he would like?”
“He would prefer any type,” Mr Unmathallegadoo insisted. “It was for my brother to use it for fishing. For him to use. Not for me to use.”
The prosecutor then quizzed him on his account as to how he reconnected with his children in last year.
“You told the jury this morning that the crucial moment was when you saw Devi out in the street and she said to you ‘the kids want to see you,’ and you went and introduced yourself to them,” Mr Wright said.
“But you re-establishing contact with your children was not initiated by Devi saying she wanted to see you.
“It was by hanging around on the kids’ way to and from school.
“This is the lady that you had not forgiven, the lady that you would not speak to, the lady that you have described as giving you a ‘death stare’.”
He added: “You had been stalking this family for some time and watching their movements to and from that house.”
Mr Unmathallegadoo responded: “No absolutely not.”
The court heard he was banned from contacting his children by a restraining order, but claimed he had spoken to his daughter on her way to school.
Mr Wright then pressed on his decision to store his armoury in bushes near his ex-wife’s home in Newbury Park.
“The reason why you deposited it there was because you wanted to minimize the risk of someone realising that you were armed to the teeth,” he said.
“No, it is because I wasn’t ready to go back to Mauritius,” Mr Unmathallegadoo said.
He denies murder and attempted child destruction.
The trial continues.