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London: Indian-origin banker gets life term for killing wife

world Updated: Jan 24, 2014 15:03 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

An Indian-origin banker, who caused a loss of millions of dollars in an accounting error and became a gambling addict, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for strangling his wife in a fit of rage in July last year by a court in London.

A jury at the Wood Green Crown court held Manas Kapoor, 35, guilty of his wife Shivani’s murder on Thursday evening. He must serve a minimum of 16 years of his life sentence before he is considered for parole.

The couple, who belonged to New Delhi, got married in the Indian capital in 2003 and have a one-year daughter, Vania.

"Manas Kapoor was under a great deal of pressure, both at work and home. He was a compulsive gambler who was heavily in debt. On the day in question he was due to attend a disciplinary meeting with his employers and genuinely feared he was about to lose his job," detective inspector Simon Pickford of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said after the sentence.

"He admitted in police interview that he found it difficult to deal with stress and the jury have agreed with the prosecution account that he killed his wife, strangling her in a fit of rage when the many stresses came to a head,” added Pickford.

After their marriage, Shivani moved to Glasgow in 2005 to pursue a postgraduate degree in autism at Strathclyde University and Manas followed in 2006. In late 2007, he secured a job at Morgan Stanley.

A year later Shivani got a job as an paediatric occupational therapist at Northwick Park Hospital in London but Manas remained in Glasgow until he got a job transfer to the Morgan Stanley office in Canary Wharf, London, in 2009.

Recounting the incident, the Metropolitan police said that they were called to the couple's home in Northwood in northwest London on 10 July last year following reports of a woman who was found to be unresponsive. On arrival, they found Shivani being treated by the ambulance service.

She was taken to the Hillingdon Hospital but later died from her injuries.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as manual compression of the neck. Her husband Manas was arrested at the scene.

The court was told that Manas had made a call to the emergency service, claiming he had found his wife unconscious on the bedroom floor and he thought she had fallen off a stool and hit her head.

On the day of the incident, Manas was due to attend an important meeting at the Morgan Stanley office about a serious accounting error involving millions of dollars for which he was held responsible.

Manas, who worked for Morgan Stanley as a product controller in the finance department, feared he was about to lose his job. He had been on long-term sick leave since the previous January with depression and anxiety.

He had also borrowed thousands of pounds from friends and was under debt by 8,000 pound due to gambling and this had caused tension between the couple, the police said.

Shivani had complained to friends and family about the situation before her death and also told them that some jewellery belonging to her and her daughter as well as money had gone missing.

Manas had pawned the jewellery in order to cover some of his outstanding debts.

Police officers, who attended the scene, noted that Manas had a series of small thin scratches on the right side of his face, which he claimed were caused by his daughter.

He had also claimed he was in the bath when his wife "fell".

The prosecution said the circumstances were "ripe" for him having lashed out in a fit of temper, strangling his wife.