How the perfect couple’s marriage ended in a poisoned biryani and a slit throat: British wife, 38, faces the hangman’s rope after plotting with her lover to murder her husband, 34, for his £2m life insurance and £100,000 assets
To the outside world, Sukhjit Singh and his wife Ramandeep Kaur Mann were the perfect couple. She was a bright, glamorous and hard-working mother of two. He was a rich, ambitious and devoted family man. Theirs was not an arranged marriage – they’d married for love and enjoyed the trappings of a middle-class life in a smart suburb of Derby.
But as is nearly always the case, all that glitters is not gold – and beautiful Ramandeep had plenty of that. The balance of power in their marriage, say those who knew the couple, was not entirely even.
‘He worshipped the ground she walked on and waited on her hand and foot,’ recalls a friend of the couple, speaking exclusively to the Mail. ‘I got the impression she always got what she wanted.’
Not always. This week British-born Ramandeep, 38, was facing the hangman’s rope in India after she was convicted of murdering her adoring husband, with the help of her lover.
Unbeknown to Sukhjit, the wife he doted on had begun a secret affair with his closest childhood friend, and together the lovers coldly devised a plot to poison and murder him for his £2 million life insurance and £100,000 assets.
British mother Ramandeep Kaur Mann (pictured) sentenced to death in India for murdering her husband so that she could inherit £2 million from his life insurance policy
The killing was witnessed by their eldest son Arjun who was aged nine at the time. Pictured: Sukhjit Singh and Ramandeep Kaur Mann
In September 2016, while on holiday at her mother-in-law’s house, in Basantapur – a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, northern India – Ramandeep laced her 34-year-old husband’s favourite biryani curry with sedatives, before letting her boyfriend, Gurpreet Singh – who’d tagged along on the trip – into the property.
READ MORE HERE: EXCLUSIVE: Unfaithful British mother sentenced to death by hanging for murdering her husband had given him a biryani laced with sedatives before she slit his throat to get her hands on his £2m life insurance
While Sukhjit slept, Ramandeep smothered him with a pillow, before Gurpreet smashed his friend over the head with a hammer. Ramandeep then completed the job by slitting her husband’s throat.
The lovers planned to use Sukhjit’s money to run away and start a new life, but the plot soon unravelled when police were called and immediately suspected that Ramandeep was involved.
She was arrested and Gurpreet was then picked up as he tried to board a flight to Dubai, where he was based.
Horrifically, Ramandeep’s elder son, Arjun, then aged just nine, witnessed his father’s murder. He hadn’t felt hungry that night and so hadn’t eaten enough of the drugged meal to knock him out, as his mother had planned.
Just after 10pm, the little boy was awoken by the sound of his father struggling as his mother attempted to smother him. What he saw will no doubt haunt him for the rest of his life.
He later told police: ‘My dad was great but my mum was bad and I don’t want to see her face ever because she killed my dad in front of my eyes. She kept a pillow on my dad’s face and asked Gurpreet to slit his throat.’
After waiting seven years for the trial to get to court due to the the protracted Indian justice system, Ramandeep and Gurpreet were finally convicted of Sukhjit’s murder earlier this month after Arjun, now 16, flew from the UK to give evidence against his mother in person.
If that were not dramatic enough, the case took a final shocking twist on Tuesday when the trial judge ruled that the murder had been so barbaric Ramandeep should receive the death penalty. She now faces being hanged for her crimes.
Gurpreet Singh (pictured), who was a childhood friend of Sukhjeet, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of £260,000
Ramandeep Kaur Mann now faces the prospect of being hanged for the killing
Her trial at a court in Shahjahanpur, north India heard that Mann’s affair with Gurpreet, who was her husband’s childhood friend, started during a family holiday to Dubai in November 2015
District Judge Pankaj Kumar Srivastava said not only had Sukhjit, who was known as Sonu, lost his life, but the childhood of his two sons had been ‘exterminated’ for the ‘sake of an illicit relationship’.
As the death sentence was handed down, Ramandeep screamed that she was innocent and had been ‘framed’ by her dead husband’s relatives.
READ MORE HERE: Mother of devout Sikh with ‘£2m life insurance’ who was murdered in India by his British wife and her secret lover says she is ‘relieved’ after her son’s killer was sentenced to death
Her lawyers immediately appealed the death sentence and, while most are now commuted to life imprisonment in India, she could still face the noose if the inevitable months, if not years, of legal hearings ultimately fail to overturn the judge’s decision.
The country’s last execution took place in 2020 – just three years ago – when four men were hanged for the gang rape and murder of a young woman.
For now, at least, Ramandeep’s days will be spent under the watchful eye of a female constable assigned to monitor her wretched existence in the overcrowded and rundown Shahjahanpur District Jail, where she is being held.
Her current circumstances must feel a world away from the comfortable upbringing she enjoyed with her Sikh parents, businessman father Paul Mann, mother Amarjit and three sisters, in their extended semi-detached home on a tree-lined street in Slough, Berkshire, in the 1990s.
Described as ‘good, law-abiding citizens who will help anyone’, the family were refusing to answer the door to reporters this week, but they have always protested Ramandeep’s innocence and have been left ‘shattered’ by her death sentence.
Sources in India have told the Mail the wealthy Manns, who have political contacts in the country, had been confident it would never get to this stage.
Just seven months after Ramandeep’s arrest, they managed to ‘buy’ their second eldest child out of prison – almost unheard of for such a serious crime – which allowed her to live in relative comfort with family friends in the country, rather than languish on remand for years in one of India’s notoriously squalid jails.
And, by all accounts, the Manns were also convinced their money and connections would eventually help to bring Ramandeep home.
‘They have spent more than £100,000 on legal fees and managed to get Ramandeep bail,’ the source told the Mail.
Devout Sikh Sukhjit Singh (left), 34, a father-of-two from Derby was found in bed with his throat slit
Ramandeep Kaur Mann, 38, from Derby, was found guilty of murdering her husband Sukhjeet Singh, 34, (pictured together) while they were on holiday at his mother’s house in India in 2016
The Manns insist Ramandeep was somehow set up by relatives of Sukhjit’s, who, they say, had him killed when they discovered he was planning to sell land around his ancestral home.
‘Sonu went to sell the land which someone did not like,’ Mr Mann wrote online in 2016. ‘Raman is innocent – she has been framed.’
While no evidence was presented to the court to support such claims, it is true that Sukhjit owned property and agricultural land in India.
The village of Basantapur houses a Sikh community, who have a reputation for being enterprising with their rural wealth.
READ MORE HERE: British mother is sentenced to death in India after brutally murdering her devout Sikh husband with the help of her secret lover in front of the couple’s horrified nine-year-old son
Certainly, friends have told the Mail that Sukhjit’s family, while humble, were ‘well-to-do’ and had ‘a money background’.
Three years older than Ramandeep, whom he met when he was aged 20 and she just 17, when Sukhjit first came to the UK in around 2002, the couple fell ‘madly’ in love and married three years later, in 2005. The friend said: ‘It was not an arranged marriage. Their families had nothing to do with the relationship, but they were delighted with them as a couple. Sukhjit worshipped the ground Ramandeep walked on.’
Initially, the couple ran a pizza outlet in Carshalton, Surrey, but they moved to Derby to raise their two sons: Arjun, who was born in 2007, and another boy who arrived three years later, in 2010.
‘There’s a big Sikh community (in Derby) and it created new business opportunities for them,’ the friend said.
‘Property is cheaper than in London. Sukhjit was a shrewd businessman and so was she.
‘He would analyse property prices and was very intelligent. He thought he could get more for his money in Derby than if they stayed in London.’
Thanks largely to Sukhjit’s business acumen, the university-educated pair enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle and were well-respected in Littleover, a desirable, semi-rural suburb on the outskirts of Derby, where they set about bringing up their boys.
The couple worked hard – at one stage, Ramandeep, who studied graphic design at Thames Valley University, managed a branch of Argos and took on a second job to provide for the family.
Alongside his business ventures, Sukhjit also worked as a driver and was planning to set up a transport firm, which he named Arjun Transport after their first born, in the months before he died.
A devout Sikh, Sukhjit also became a regular every Sunday at Derby’s Sri Guru Singh Sabha Temple and sometimes volunteered as a project manager at the National Sikh Museum in the city.
Gurpal Singh, who worked with him at the museum, previously said: ‘They were a lovely couple and there was no sign of any difficulties – they seemed very much in love.’
Other family and friends have also described Ramandeep as ‘placid and compassionate’ and said she enjoyed a ‘nice and loving relationship’ with her husband.
But behind closed doors, there was a growing imbalance in the couple’s relationship.
A friend said: ‘He was quite protective but also laid back. I never heard him say anything to her about rules or anything like that. She could do what she wanted. She wore what she wanted and had a level of control over him.
‘Sometimes eyebrows were raised in the Sikh community about the way she did not always conform to tradition.
Mann mixed sleeping pills into a biryani she made for Mr Singh and their two children, which was his favourite dish
Lawyers for Mann have filed an appeal against her death sentence, claiming that the judge incorrectly applied the law when he handed it down to her
‘He treated her well and she had expensive habits. She wore nice clothes and jewellery that he bought her, and she liked people to compliment her on how she looked. She always dressed nicely, I never saw her looking casual. I always found her to be a very nice woman and a very good mother. But she knew Sukhjit was madly in love with her.’
In November 2015, the couple took their sons on holiday to visit Sukhjit’s closest friend, Gurpreet, who was living in Dubai. The two men had known each other since their school days and Sukhjit affectionately referred to Gurpreet as his ‘brother’ even though they weren’t related.
Gurpreet, who was also a truck driver and worked in construction, joined the family on day trips during their stay and was pictured in ‘selfies’ posted online with the couple and their young sons.
But unbeknown to Sukhjit, Ramandeep and Gurpreet became more than friends and started an affair during the holiday which they continued, via WhatsApp, on their return.
They soon began plotting how to get the unsuspecting Sukhjit out of the picture.
The friend of the couple added: ‘I was gobsmacked to hear Ramandeep had been cheating on Sukhjit. But then if one of them was going to be unfaithful, it was more likely to be her. That was just the dynamic of the relationship.’
It is alleged the lovers decided they would lure Sukhjit to India, where they believed it would be easier to get away with murder.
The following summer, in July 2016, Gurpreet tagged along with Ramandeep and Sukhjit on an extended break to visit Sukhjit’s mother, Vanshjeet Kaur.
But this time Sukhjit noticed a ‘strange chemistry’ between his wife and his friend and, on August 22, he confronted her about it.
Ten days later Ramandeep, who stood to benefit from the £2million life insurance policy she’d taken out in her husband’s name, as well as inheriting his two houses and the £100,000 he had in the bank, ground up some sleeping pills and added them to the family’s curry dinner.
With her family seemingly sleeping soundly, she enacted the lovers’ murderous plan.
In the end, it was Ramandeep who was found guilty of striking the fatal blow with the knife that Gurpreet had passed from his pocket. She left her husband of 11 years to bleed to death in his bed.
The couple’s elder son, Arjun, who now lives with his younger brother and paternal uncle, travelled to India from their home in London to testify against his mother in court last month.
He insisted: ‘I still remember what I saw on that night. I especially came to India to ensure a speedy trial. I want my father’s killers to be punished by the law.’
Gurpreet was jailed for life and fined £3,000 but was spared the death sentence.
Reacting to the verdict, Sukhjit’s mother told reporters outside the court that she was thankful that her daughter-in-law had been sentenced to death.
She said: ‘I feel relieved. My prayers were answered and I got what I was expecting from the court. I was demanding capital punishment for Ramandeep so that no other mother’s child dies like this.’
Ashok Khanna, lawyer for Sukhjit’s family, added: ‘[Ramandeep] Mann has not shown any remorse and has been very arrogant from the moment she was arrested.
‘She deserves this punishment because this is a woman who drugged her own husband and children so that she could kill him. Who does that kind of thing?’
A woman like Ramandeep, it seems, who now looks set to pay the ultimate price for her crimes.
Additional reporting by Isaac Crowson
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