Coroner rules newlywed was murdered

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The Independent Online

A pregnant newlywed who was found hanging in her badly burned home alongside a fake suicide note was murdered, probably by someone known to her, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Kuldeep Kaur Sidhu's body was discovered by her husband at the bottom of her stairs with a rope around her neck in May 2008. A nearby suicide note claimed that she had taken her own life because her husband had been having an affair.

But investigators quickly discounted the theory that the 25-year-old Sikh had killed herself after they discovered that the note could not have been written by Ms Sidhu and that the ligature marks on her neck could not have been caused by hanging. Detectives also discovered that someone had set fire to the house in Quinton, Birmingham, in an apparent attempt to hide the evidence.

Yesterday Aidan Cotter at Birmingham Coroner's Court ruled that Ms Sidhu had been murdered by someone who was known to her. Under the rules governing coroners, Mr Cotter said he was forbidden from naming any potential suspects. Instead he ruled that it was likely Ms Sidhu knew her killer.

"In my view, the evidence shows clearly this was not murder by a stranger," he told the court after a three-day inquest. "An attempt was made to destroy the evidence by burning her body to make it look as if Kuldeep had taken her own life by hanging. She had not."

Last night West Midlands Police renewed their appeal for witnesses to come forward, and reiterated their belief that family members know what happened to Ms Sidhu.

DS Andrew Houston from Force CID said: "We echo the coroner's comments heard over the last two days of the inquest and we firmly believe that the answer does lie with the wider family. We are still keen to trace Kuldeep's final movements and speak to anybody who may have seen her on the 13 or 14 May."

During the inquest, the court heard how Ms Siddhu had been married to her husband, Baljinder, for six months before her death and that she was six weeks' pregnant. Police said they found no evidence to suggest that Mr Sidhu was having any affairs.

But the court did hear that Mr Sidhu's family were upset about his marriage to his wife because she came from a lower caste.

Congratulating all the professionals involved in the investigation for "uncovering the truth" about the death, Mr Cotter said he believed the expectant mother's killers would one day be caught. "I am confident that with the evidence that has been obtained and secured, that sooner or later the murder will be solved and the murderer or murderers will be brought to justice," he said. "It may not be in the immediate future, but sooner or later it will happen."

Family members declined to issue any statement yesterday but on the first anniversary of her murder Mr Sidhu called on community members to come forward with even the slightest amount of information that "may be crucial".

"My wife Kully was my whole life and the most loving and kindest person I have ever known in my whole life," he said. "I loved my wife with my whole heart and she loved me with all hers. But on Wednesday 14 May my wife was taken away from me."