Lakhvir Singh faces life in jail for poisoned curry murder

A jealous woman who killed her lover by poisoning his curry was facing a life sentence today after being convicted of his murder.

Lakhvir Singh, 45, was said to have killed Lakhvinder "Lucky" Cheema, 39, because she could not bear the thought of his marriage to another woman.

He had been due to marry Gurjeet Choongh, 21, on Valentine's Day last year.

But on January 27, they both became violently ill after eating leftover curry which had been in the fridge of their home in Princes Road, Feltham, west London.

Within hours, Mr Cheema was dead and Miss Choongh was fighting for her life after being poisoned with Indian aconite.

Aconite, known as the Queen of Poisons, is one of the most deadly poisons but this was the first case in England since 1882.

Singh, of Southall, west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering Mr Cheema and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Ms Choongh. She was found not guilty of attempting to murder Ms Choongh.

The judge gave the jury, which had been considering its verdicts for four days, a majority direction in respect of a fourth charge, that Singh administered poison to Mr Cheema the month before.

After her arrest, Singh, a mother of three, tried to blame her brother-in-law Varinder for the death.

But a lodger at the house saw her take a container with the curry out of the fridge earlier in the day, the court heard.

Singh and Mr Cheema had been having a secret affair for 16 years but he decided to settle down and have children.

Singh's husband was being treated for cancer abroad and she claimed to police that Mr Cheema had talked her out of divorcing him.

But she continued to text Mr Cheema with love messages and tried to talk him out of marrying Ms Choongh, whom he had only known for a few months.

After the engagement became final in November 2008, Singh went to India and returned three weeks later.

A week after that, Mr Cheema was taken to hospital.

Singh went with him and stayed by his bedside each day. It was there that Ms Choongh realised there had been a relationship and warned her off.

Mr Cheema was discharged after a week but doctors were unable to say what had caused his illness.

Things got worse over Christmas when Singh discovered that Mr Cheema was determined to go ahead with the marriage to the younger woman.

Ms Choongh said: "I knew she was jealous of my relationship with Lakhvinder.

"I told her not to interfere in our lives any longer. I told her to forget everything that had gone on in the past.

"She said 'I cannot forget the feelings that I have'. I tried to reason with her quite a lot but it had no effect on her."

Ms Choongh said she told Singh: "That relationship is now ended because he is now engaged to me."

As the wedding approached, there were tearful showdowns, with Singh being told to forget Lucky.

But Singh turned up one morning expecting the couple to be at work - and headed straight for the fridge.

That evening, the couple were discussing their wedding plans over dinner.

Ms Choongh said: "Lucky ate more than I. After that, he had second helpings.

"Lucky said to me 'I am not feeling very well. My face has become numb and when I touch it, I cannot feel it'."

Ms Choongh had a shower and then said she began feeling similar symptoms and an ambulance was called.

"He said that everything seemed to be going dark. He could not see anything and was losing feelings in his body," Ms Choongh said.

"He was touching his tongue and could not feel anything. He was having to support himself. He said 'I think this problem is because of the food we have eaten'.

"I was feeling the same. Everything was going dark. I began to feel dizzy. It was difficult to stand up. My tummy was hurting."

Suspicious that Singh had poisoned them, Mr Cheema rang for an ambulance. He told the operator: "Someone put poison in our food... she is my ex-girlfriend."

Before the ambulance arrived, Mr Cheema summoned his sister and nephews who took them to casualty in a car.

He died within an hour of arriving at the West Middlesex Hospital.

The last thing Ms Choongh remembers is sitting on a hospital bed before being placed into a coma for two days while doctors traced the poison and gave her an antidote.

Police later found traces of the poison among herbs in Singh's coat pocket and in her handbag.

Edward Brown QC, prosecuting, said the couple had been "looking forward to a long and happy life together".

He added: "That future happiness was cut short in a most terrible and cruel way.

"It was their very happiness and their intended future together that brought about the devastation that came to bear down upon them.

"Perhaps jealousy, anger and revenge all playing their part, Lakhvir Singh decided to poison them using an extremely toxic and deadly poison."

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