Man who killed ex-wife by shooting her with crossbow ‘only meant to get her attention’, court hears

Prosecution denies suspect’s claim that shot was accidental

Vincent Wood
Friday 15 November 2019 19:36 GMT
Jurors heard the crossbow bolt pierced Ms Unmathallegadoo’s heart, causing ‘catastrophic’ internal injuries
Jurors heard the crossbow bolt pierced Ms Unmathallegadoo’s heart, causing ‘catastrophic’ internal injuries (PA)

A man who killed his heavily pregnant ex-wife with a crossbow has claimed he was only trying to get her attention when he shot her through the heart.

Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, 51, armed himself with two crossbows to confront Devi Unmathallegadoo in November 2018 after their marriage had broken down and she had begun a relationship with another man.

In his testimony at the Old Bailey, Mr Unmathallegadoo claimed he had only been carrying the weapons to stop him feeling intimidated by her new partner, Imtiaz Muhammad.

The court heard Mr Unmathallegadoo had hid in the shed of his former partner’s home in Ilford, east London, where he waited for Mr Muhammad to arrive.

On seeing his ex-wife’s new partner, the accused chased him through the house – dropping one of the crossbows as he followed him towards the stairs so he could aim more effectively, the court heard.

He then claimed his weapon had accidentally fired as he checked a safety catch, striking his ex-wife when he had meant to fire on a bannister to shock her.

Mr Unmathallegadoo told the court: “Devi and Imtiaz were on the stairs. I just wanted them to stop [running].

“I thought if I hit the bannister they would hear the noise and stop.

“I moved the crossbow to check if the safety catch was on or off – I was just checking and it went off.”

Mr Unmathallegadoo admitted he had not at any point told the two to stop moving.

He then moved to fetch the second weapon, which was still loaded where he had left it in the kitchen, telling the court: “When the crossbow had been discharged, I felt defenceless so the next thing I did was go back to the kitchen and get the other one.”

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He claimed he had not seen Ms Unmathallegadoo had been fatally wounded.

Jurors heard the crossbow bolt pierced her heart, causing “catastrophic” internal injuries.

Medical professionals were unable to save the 35-year-old mother-to-be – however, her child was delivered by emergency caesarean and survived.

The prosecution denied Mr Unmathallegadoo’s assertion the shot had been an accident.

The jury heard the accused had been stockpiling weapons and equipment – including the two crossbows – for more than a year before the killing.

He is also alleged to have carried out surveillance on the family home, where he had lived for five months with his former partner before their separation.

Prosecutor Richard Horwell QC told jurors: “This was a deliberate and quite calculated act of revenge on his part, intended to cause at the very least the death of Devi.

“On the evidence you hear, however, you may well conclude that his plans encompassed more than that, and that, although Devi was undoubtedly his principal target, he also intended to kill her partner, Imtiaz Muhammad.”

Mr Unmathallegadoo denies the charge of murder. The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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