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Australian jailed for life for killing three Indians

July 05, 2012 10:59 IST

An Australian man, who killed his Indian girlfriend and her two siblings, was on Thursday sentenced to life with a minimum 35 years of jail without parole, the longest sentence handed down in Queensland history.

Supreme Court judge John Byrne on Thursday handed down the life sentence to Massimo 'Max' Sica, 42, for what he described as "brutal, horrific crimes in the worst category of murder".

Earlier on Tuesday, a jury of eight men and four women found Sica guilty of killing his former 24-year-old girlfriend Neelma Singh, and her siblings -- Kunal, 18 and Sidhi, 12, in 2003. The three were found dead in the spa of their parents' home at Bridgeman Downs, on Brisbane's northern fringe. Sica showed no emotion as the sentence was read out.

In sentencing, Justice Byrne called Sica manipulative and deceitful and said he had shown no remorse. "These are brutal, horrific crimes in the worst category of murder," he said.

The judge said the crimes had devastating consequences for the Singh family, causing them awful misery they would suffer for the rest of their lives.

Sica was sentenced to serve a life sentence for each victim, and Justice Byrne said he must not be released for 35 years unless under exceptional circumstances.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell had submitted that Sica should serve 45 years in prison and described it as "the horrendous nature of the killings", including "the murder of an 18 and a 12-year-old in a callous, calculating way" to cover his tracks.

He said Sica had showed an intent to kill, had operated normally the next day and had "an appalling criminal history". His crimes had a "devastating" affect on the Singh family, and the ensuing trial revealed "salacious" family details which added to their pain, media reports said.

The 35-year non-parole period is five years longer than the previous record sentence in Queensland.

Campbell read Sica's extensive criminal history to the court, including convictions for the arson and attempted arson of two Brisbane police stations when he was in his 20s. "How could anyone so cold-blooded do what was done to our children," the victims' mother Shirley Singh wrote in her statements which was read to the court.

Shirley described in detail the horrific nature of finding out her children had been killed, identifying their bodies and her devastation at the funeral. She described her daily rituals of lighting a candle in the spa and still prepares meals for her three children. "They never hurt anyone, harmed anyone or annoyed anyone. What I saw of my children and how I saw, I pray to God no other mother will see what I saw. My heart aches as I write this."

The victims' older sister Sonia Pathik said, "My life has never been the same since the 22nd of April, 2003."

Father Vijay Singh's statement asked, "How could he take their lives the way he did, taking the young and vulnerable, those who could not protect themselves?"

During the trial, it was heard that Neelma died first "of asphyxiation caused by sustained manual compression of her neck ... that is, she was strangled".

The prosecution case was that Sidhi died next "from blunt force trauma to her head, inflicted with a severe degree of force". Kunal was believed to have drowned in the spa bath where all three bodies were discovered, after suffering "blunt force trauma to his head".

The bodies were found inside a spa in the bedroom ensuite on April 22, 2003, by Sica who said he entered the home after becoming concerned when Neelima failed to take his calls.

No charges were laid until December 30, 2008, when a painstaking forensic investigation was finished, capping what had been an intense police examination of the case.

Sica protested his innocence throughout the entire five-year investigation and continued his defiance at the verdict.



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