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Man convicted for killing wife, in-laws

Gurmej Rai was sentenced for murdering four relatives by organising for their home to be set on fire while they were home.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 19:34 IST

It was the most callous and planned mass murder. Gurmej Rai, 37, has finally been sentenced for murdering four relatives by organising for their Black Country home to be set on fire while they were inside.

He was convicted of killing his wife Darshan Kaur, her parents Ajit Singh, 64, and Gurdish Kaur, 60, and daughter-in-law Palvinder Kaur, 44. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Amerjit Kaur who managed to escape by leaping through a window.

Rai enjoyed a bachelor's lifestyle until his wife came from India. He could not let his wife upset his freedom. So he recruited two men to set their house, in Peake Drive, Tipton on fire.

But two Handsworth men, Raju Sahonta of Station Road and Ravinder Bedhan of Raleigh Close, were acquitted of four counts of murder and one of attempted murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court. The pair said they did not know anyone was in the house in the Dudley Port area and admitted the manslaughter of the four.

A fourth defendant, Ravinder Mattu of Birmingham Road, Great Barr, Birmingham, was cleared of four counts of murder and a single charge of attempted murder. A jury, of six men and six women, took six hours and 31 minutes to reach the unanimous verdicts.

The five-week trial heard that Rai of Florence Road, West Bromwich, had been in the UK for six years while his wife - known as both Darshan and Nurmal - stayed in India.

He lived a bachelor's life and had a mistress, but in 2004 his wife also came to Britain and her family told him he needed to start acting the model husband, the court heard.

Rai resented their views and organised for Sahonta and Badhan to let into the family home in September 2004. The pair was given keys to the house and doused the hallway in petrol before setting it alight.

Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, told the court, "Four people died in that fire and a fifth person escaped by jumping from the bedroom window and was badly burnt. Rai had been living in the UK for six years and living the bachelor's life, and had a mistress.

"But after his wife arrived her family were insistent he lived with his wife and behaved properly."

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 19:34 IST