Perpetrators of family violence would have got a clear message from a recent Hamilton Court verdict that they would spend a long time behind bars if charged and convicted for their despicable behaviour.
Thirty-year-old Devesh Kumar Sharma received a non-parole prison term of 14 years and six months on proven charges of murdering his wife last year.
He set fire to Ranjeeta Sharma on a rural Waikato roadside on January 20, 2011 after dousing her with petrol. The 28-year-old was believed to be alive when she was torched. He left for his native Fiji with the couple’s son Akash, then four years old, but was brought back to New Zealand to face a number of charges.
Hamilton Court Judge Justice Pamela Andrews described the defendant’s action as ‘particularly cruel.’
“I find it hard, if not impossible, to find a murder committed in a more horrible way,’’ she said, as she handed down her verdict on April 3, 2012.
Earlier, the Court heard that the victim had attempted to revoke a protection order against Sharma three days before she was murdered.
She was granted a protection order for herself and her son on December 15, 2010. However, at a hearing on January 17 2011, she had indicated to the Manukau District Court that she wanted to withdraw the order.
According to available information, the court confirmed that Mrs Sharma wanted to discontinue proceedings, but said a court-appointed lawyer for the boy had opposed the move. The order remained in place, but before the matter could be resolved, she was dead.
Reading a ‘Victim Impact Statement’ in the Court, Janice Sharon, a cousin of the deceased, said that Mrs Sharma will always be remembered for her smile and friendliness.
“But when she came to stay with us during her marriage, she was a completely different person. “Devesh tortured and broke her in so many ways before actually killing her. She was insecure and tired and I cannot ever remember seeing her smile,” she said.
Ms Sharon hoped that the tragic and brutal death of Mrs Sharma would not be in vain, and her story could save others.
“We would urge other women in Ranjeeta’s situation to please learn from her ordeal. This could happen to anyone, despite race or culture, age, or even gender. Anyone who is in a domestic violence situation should get help and most importantly get out,” she said.