Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Curry poison killer Lakhvir Singh jailed for life

Lakhvir Kaur Singh arrives at court
Lakhvir Singh has been found guilty of murder

A woman found guilty of murdering her former lover of 16 years by poisoning his curry at his west London home has been jailed for life.

Lakhvinder Cheema, 39, died hours after eating the meal with his new fiancee at his home in Feltham in January 2009.

At the Old Bailey, Lakhvir Singh, 45, was convicted of his murder and will serve a minimum term of 23 years.

Sentencing her, Judge Paul Worsley said: "You set about a cold and calculating revenge."

"You were not just a spurned lover, you did not simply explode in anger at your rejection."

On Wednesday, Singh, of Southall, was cleared of attempting to murder Gurjeet Choongh, Mr Cheema's fiancee.

I would like to reassure the public that cases such as these are incredibly rare
Det Insp Tony Bishop

However, the jury found the defendant guilty of causing Ms Choongh grievous bodily harm with intent.

After deliberating for a further day, the jury cleared Singh of a charge of administering poison to Mr Cheema in December 2008, a month before his death.

On that occasion Mr Cheema was discharged from hospital after a week but doctors were unable to say what had caused his sickness.

The jury heard Singh could not bear the thought of her lover's marriage to 22-year-old Miss Choongh and laced the food with Indian aconite, known as the Queen of Poisons.

After her arrest Singh, a mother-of-three, tried to blame her brother-in-law Varinder for the death.

But a lodger at the house saw her take a container with the curry out of the fridge earlier in the day, the court heard.

Lakhvinder Cheema
Lakhvinder Cheema was known as Lucky

The court heard that after the engagement became final in November 2008, Singh went to India and returned three weeks later. Another week later, Mr Cheema was taken to hospital.

Miss Choongh gave evidence in the trial detailing how the couple fell ill while discussing their wedding plans.

"Lucky said to me 'I am not feeling very well. My face has become numb and when I touch it, I cannot feel it'."

Ms Choongh had a shower and then said she began feeling similar symptoms.

"He said that everything seemed to be going dark. He could not see anything and was losing feelings in his body," Ms Choongh said.

He died within an hour of arriving at the West Middlesex Hospital.

The last thing Ms Choongh remembers is sitting on a hospital bed before being placed in a coma for two days while doctors traced the poison and gave her an antidote.

Police later found traces of the poison among herbs in Singh's coat pocket and in her handbag.

'Feel emptiness'

Miss Choongh said in a victim impact statement she still suffers the stress of having been close to death.

"I still do not feel fully recovered and I believe it will affect me for the rest of my life," she said.

Mr Cheema's sister, Narinder Singh, 48, who is also the sister-in-law of Lakhvir Singh's husband, said in a statement: "When he was around I never felt that I needed anyone.

"Now I feel as if there is only emptiness in my life."

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Michael Mulkerrins said: "[Lakhvir Singh's] actions caused devastating consequences and I hope that today's verdicts provide some comfort to all of those affected."

Det Insp Tony Bishop said: "I would like to reassure the public that cases such as these are incredibly rare."

"Our thoughts are now with Lucky's family and Gurjeet."

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