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Indian student gets lifer for double murder in Oz

October 01, 2010 16:39 IST

An Australian court on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old student from Punjab to life imprisonment for stabbing two of his Indian flatmates to death over a dispute. Jagdeep Singh pleaded guilty to murdering Navdeep Singh, 20, and Kawaldeep Singh, 19, on February 11 this year.

During the sentencing, Justice John McKechnie in the Perth Supreme Court, noted the high level of stabbings carried out by young men in Perth. With a 20-year minimum term, Jagdeep, will not be eligible for release until 2030.

Jagdeep shared a two-bedroom flat in Morley in north Perth with the brothers and three others, but had been told he had to move out because the landlady thought it too crowded. Prosecution lawyer Justin Whalley told the court that Jagdeep, a hospitality course student, wanted Aus $310 in bond money from Navdeep Singh, so he could look for another flat. After failing to get money from Navdeep, he went to the flat with a knife early morning and stabbed both brothers, inflicting deep abdominal wounds that led to their deaths.

Navdeep Singh made it to a nearby St John Ambulance depot and was taken to Royal Perth Hospital for emergency surgery, but later died. Jagdeep was eventually arrested and confessed to the police he had stabbed the brothers. The flatmates were on student visa.

Singh's defence lawyer Curt Hofman said before his client went to the flat with the knife, he had consumed half a bottle of Canadian Club whisky which had impaired his judgment.

"It's probably a key factor, he's not used to consuming this substance," he said, adding Singh thought he was being bullied by Navdeep Singh and needed to regain his respect after being told it would take at least a week to get the bond money to him. "It's fair to say he stewed over this as being an unjust arrangement."

Jagdeep was known as a very mild-mannered young man. Hofman said, adding a psychological report indicated alcohol had helped trigger violent action over his grievance. Hofman said Jagdeep was from a good middle-class family in Punjab and had been financed out to Australia by his family to study.

Prosecution lawyer Justin Whalley said the parents of the deceased brothers had sold a house and land to pay for their study in Australia in the hope they would return to support the family. What they got was a violent death far from home, he said, adding life imprisonment with a substantial minimum term was required to reflect the seriousness of a double murder.

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