LONDON // An Indian teenager yesterday began serving a life sentence in prison for hacking to death a young mother in a contract killing.
Sher Singh, 19, used a machete with a 35cm blade to kill Geeta Aulakh as she walked down a suburban London street on her way to collect her two young children from a playgroup.
The court heard that the attack in September last year was so violent that Singh sliced off Aulakh's hand as she tried to defend herself.
In the dock with Singh was Aulakh's estranged husband, Harpreet Aulakh, 32, who had ordered the murder after his wife had sought a divorce.
Both men were found guilty of the murder of the 28-year-old radio station receptionist. Singh will spent a minimum of 22 years in prison before being considered for parole, while Aulakh, from east London, was ordered to spend a minimum of 28 years in jail.
Aulakh had asked her husband for a divorce because she could no longer tolerate his abuse. He had become convinced, quite erroneously, that she was having an affair and had paid Singh to kill her after meeting him on a trip to India.
Four months before the killing, Singh flew from India to Britain on a student visa for a course in hospitality management at Kings Langley College in south-east London. However, he did not attend any classes and, two months before the killing, the college reported him to the UK Border Agency as a bogus student. The agency took no steps to track him down and deport him.
Sentencing the pair on Friday afternoon, Justice John Saunders said Singh had fallen under the influence of Aulakh, a "man of the world", who had got him to commit the "truly appalling and shocking crime".
The judge added: "It was a pointless, cold-blooded killing of a woman about whom no one except Aulakh had a bad word to say. His reason for wanting Geeta dead was that she had made it clear to him that she was determined to divorce him and he was not prepared to accept that and he was prepared to kill her to prevent it happening.
"The family has lost a sister and daughter but, most importantly, the two children have lost a mother."
Both men denied murder but Aulakh was caught on CCTV camera buying the machete a few days before the killing and Singh was traced through DNA evidence after he attacked Mrs Aulakh in a quiet street shortly after she got off a bus to collect her children.
Moya Reed, senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service in London, said after the case: "The murder of Geeta Aulakh by her husband was a vindictive and despicable crime.
"This is a horrific case of domestic violence, where an arrogant, jealous and manipulative husband killed his wife simply because he would not accept that she wanted to divorce him."