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Any witnesses to murder of Indian mother, daughter?

Australian police made a fresh appeal for witnesses in the deaths of an Indian mother and her daughter, whose bodies were sighted June 1 at a popular tourist spot.
By Neena Bhandari | IANS, Sydney
UPDATED ON JUN 16, 2008 06:08 PM IST

Australian police on Monday made a fresh appeal for witnesses in the deaths of an Indian mother and her nine-year-old daughter, whose bodies were sighted June 1 at a popular tourist spot.

Sanjay Mehta, an engineer, was arrested on June 2 on charges of murdering his wife Jyoti Basu and his nine-year-old stepdaughter Ujjala Dinesh. The murders were discovered a day earlier on June 1 when a walker sighted a woman's body at the bottom of Echo Point lookout at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, about an hour's drive west of Sydney.

Detectives investigating the murders are particularly keen to hear from a couple walking a small white-haired dog at Echo Point on the evening of Monday, May 5 -- the day Mehta had reported his wife and stepdaughter missing.

Mehta is alleged to have murdered his wife and stepdaughter in Dunn Way in the western Sydney suburb of Blacktown, according to a police statement submitted to the Blacktown Local Court earlier this month.

He then placed the two bodies in a vehicle and took his two other children from a previous marriage for a drive to Echo Point lookout at Katoomba, the police document stated.

While the two family children went for a walk, Mehta threw the bodies off the cliff, which landed 150 metres down on the canyon floor. He then drove home, the police alleged.

Detectives on Monday said they were keen to hear from any other members of the public who might have seen a white Toyota Camry, with personalised registration AP-00-ZZ, in the Echo Point car park or Katoomba's central business district.

Mehta, 41, who was arrested from the family house in Dunn Way, had met Jyoti on the Internet in July 2006 and they were married in May 2007 after she moved to Australia.

According to the police, she had approached the Jessie Street Domestic Violence Service in January this year after her husband, who had also threatened to kill her or have her deported, verbally abused her.

Jyoti had also told her younger sister, who lives in the western suburb of North Parramatta, that her relationship with Mehta "was very strained and that he had recently been physically violent towards her", the police document stated.

Mehta's former wife, who had returned to India after their marriage broke down, is said to have returned to the family home in Blacktown on May 26.

Mehta will remain in custody until his next appearance in court July 21.

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