Crime & Court

Court Dismisses Appeal Of Mother Who Killed Daughter

The Fiji Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of a mother convicted of killing her daughter. Sundar Kaur was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering her daughter at Sigatoka
20 Dec 2019 14:02
Court Dismisses Appeal Of Mother Who Killed Daughter
Geeta Devi (left) and Sundar Kaur (right on crutches) are escorted to the High Court in Lautoka by Police officers. Photo: Salote Qalubau

The Fiji Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of a mother convicted of killing her daughter.

Sundar Kaur was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering her daughter at Sigatoka in 2016.

She had pleaded guilty to the charge of murder at the High Court in Lautoka.

On June 3, 2016, she was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years to be served before a pardon may be considered. Kaur had subsequently filed a timely notice of appeal against her sentence. Her appeal was called before the Court of Appeal panel of Judges, Justice William Calanchini and Justice Suresh Chandra.

On May 10, 2019, Kaur filed an application to abandon her appeal against the sentence pursuant to Rule 39 of the Court of Appeal Rules. At the hearing, Kaur confirmed that her decision to abandon the appeal was made voluntarily.

She had advised the court that she had not received legal advice, but understood the consequences in the event that her application was granted.

She had confirmed to the court that she did not wish to seek further legal advice on her decision to abandon her sentence appeal.

The panel of Judges said under the circumstances, the application to abandon the appeal against sentence was granted and the appeal was dismissed.

Background of the case:

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, sometime in the morning, Kaur with another and the now deceased, Kaur’s 14-year-old daughter Sanjani Lata, were in one of the bedrooms at their home in Kulukulu. Kaur, in an attempt to discipline Lata, had bound her hands with a blue cloth, which was tied to a wooden rafter attached to the tin roof above the bed.

In order to prevent Lata from kicking her, the accused also bound Lata’s legs with a rope and tied the rope to the edge of the bed. Lata was crying out loudly. Kaur then repeatedly struck Lata on the lower half of her body with an aluminum pipe, which was used as a mop stick. Lata continued crying and despite that, Kaur continued beating her.

Kaur, while striking Lata after sometime, noticed that Lata’s legs were bent and she appeared to be ‘hanging’. With the assistance of her accomplice, the blue cloth which was attached to the rafter was cut, and the rope around Lata’s legs removed. As this was done Lata fell and Kaur tried to hold her up. Lata was then carried by Kaur’s accomplice to the bathroom where they tried to make her drink water. Lata was motionless. At this point in time it was found that Lata was not breathing. It was the beating inflicted by the accused that caused Lata’s death.

Lata was then taken outside where Kaur tried to resuscitate her by blowing into her mouth. Kaur then instructed her accomplice to bring an old tyre, which would be used to burn Lata’s body along with firewood and coconut shells, which was in a heap at the back of their home.

Kaur, with the assistance of her accomplice, then wrapped Lata’s body in a thin sponge comforter and placed it in the heap.

Kaur then set fire to the tyre and the thin sponge comforter with Lata’s body in it.

After the fire had subsided, Lata’s remains were collected and placed in the septic tank behind their home.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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