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NRI guilty of killing wife in London

An Indian-origin man has been found guilty of the gruesome murder of his estranged wife, who was hacked to death with a machete on the streets of London in 2009.

world Updated: Dec 03, 2010 21:07 IST

An Indian-origin man has been found guilty of the gruesome murder of his estranged wife, who was hacked to death with a machete on the streets of London in 2009.

Geeta Aulakh, 28, was brutally killed after she sought divorce from her husband, Harpreet Aulakh, 32, following years of abuse and harassment by him.

At the Old Bailey court, Aulakh has been found guilty of organising and ordering her murder in Greenford, west London.

Aulakh faces life sentence after he was found guilty along with Sher Singh, 19, of Southall, West London, and Jaswant Dhillon, 30, of Ilford, East London.

Aftab Jafferjee, prosecuting lawyer, said behind the "savage and determined" attack was Aulakh's "chilling" reaction to his wife's desire to leave him.

He said: "Geeta Aulakh was in the process of divorcing him and that would not be tolerated. No one else in the world could possibly have wished this utterly innocent and hard-working woman and mother any harm."

Aulakh, described by Jafferjee as "smug and utterly unrepentant", claimed in court his wife was his "first love" and he did not kill her.

The court was told that Aulakh had ordered the murder after being wrongly convinced that she was having an affair with another man.

Harpreet had thought he was in the clear because he made sure he was captured on CCTV in a pub at the time of the murder. But in another CCTV footage shown to the court, Aulakh could be seen buying the machete in a store just days before the murder.

Aulakh will be sentenced on a later date.

Geeta, a receptionist with the prominent Asian radio station Sunrise Radio, was found murdered in Greenford on November 16, 2009 when she was going to a child-minder's house to collect her two sons.

Jurors heard that Aulakh told a friend: "I don't do anything stupid. I get someone else to do it."

On November 16 last year, Aulakh arranged for men to kill her in Greenford, northwest London. Geeta was ambushed after work as she walked from a bus stop in Greenford. She was attacked with a 14-inch machete and suffered injuries to her head and body. Her right hand was completely severed as she tried to defend herself.

Aulakh had offered 5,000 pounds for the killing.

Aulakh arranged the murder of his wife after becoming obsessed with the idea he had lost respect among his peers because his wife from a middle-class British Hindu family had left him and was seeking a divorce.

Geeta was born in Britain to Punjabi parents, while her estranged husband was born in Punjab.

The court was told that Harpreet Aulakh had met his wife at a bus stop in Hounslow when she was a teenager but her family had disapproved of the relationship.

They eloped to Belgium and Holland, getting married and starting a family, before returning to England.

Later the romance drained from the marriage and Geeta told a friend that her husband was obsessed with the idea that she was having an affair.

In her divorce papers, Geeta said that he hit her throughout the marriage and even while she was pregnant, once when she took a wrong turn when driving to see a midwife, and at other times slapping her, pulling her hair and hitting her with a toy car.