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Indian jailed for 40 years for murdering wife, 2 kids in UK

By Aditi Khanna
July 04, 2023 23:15 IST
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A 52-year-old man, who pleaded guilty to the triple murder of his nurse wife from Kerala and their two children last year, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 40 years behind bars by a United Kingdom court.

Saju Chelavalel, also from Kerala, appeared at Northampton Crown Court in eastern England on Monday, having previously admitted to killing his wife Anju Asok, 35, and children Jeeva Saju, 6 and Janvi Saju, 4.

Justice Edward Pepperall referred to an audio recording taken at the time of Anju's death, which was played to the court during the sentencing hearing.

“While you were squeezing the life out of your wife, your children can be heard crying in the background for their mummy. It is clear that they heard what was going on and knew that she was being hurt by you,” the judge noted in his sentencing remarks.

The court heard that on December 15, 2022, emergency services were called to the Indian family's home in Kettering, Northampton, to report that a woman and two children had suffered serious injuries.

Northamptonshire Police said its officers broke the door down in order to gain entry and found Chelavalel holding a knife. Despite repeated calls for him to put the knife down, he continued to wield it whilst shouting: “You shoot me”, resulting in him being Tasered and arrested.


Anju was declared dead at the scene and both children were also declared dead a short time later. Forensic postmortem examinations, which took place at Leicester Royal Infirmary following their deaths, concluded that all three died as a result of asphyxiation.

“The life of Anju's parents and siblings back in India will never be the same without her. She came to this country with a lot of expectations and dreams. She was not expecting a tragic death from her husband, whom she trusted,” a family spokesperson told the court this week.

“Her only surviving sister and the aunt of Jeeva and Janvi is so traumatised that she hasn't recovered from this incident's mental shock and deep scars. Indeed, she was hospitalised for a week in India due to the shock of what happened,” the spokesperson said, adding that Chelavalel had been trying to contact Anju's family from prison which was also causing them deep upset.

Prosecutor James Newton-Price said there was no evidence to support the claim Anju Asok had been unfaithful.

However, an examination of Chelavalel's phone showed that he had been searching dating websites for other women while she was at work, the BBC reported.

Sarah Powell, the headteacher of Kettering Park Infant Academy where Jeeva and Janvi attended school, told the court that the two children were valued members of the school community.

“We have two colourful benches in our playground to remember them both. Having the two police officers and next of kin present during this memorial meant a lot to our whole school community. The school has also created an album of memories of the children from their time at the school,” she shared.

Detective Inspector Simon Barnes, the Senior Investigating Officer from Northamptonshire Police in the case, described Anju as a mother like many all over the world.

“She wanted to provide the best possible life she could for her children – Jeeva and Janvi. She has been described by her colleagues and friends as very hard-working, conscientious, friendly, kind and will be sorely missed. She was one to never complain and barely missed a shift,” he said.

“As an adult, detective and father, I cannot comprehend how Saju Chelavalel could do this and don't think I ever will. He has never fully accounted for what he did or why and will now spend the rest of his life with not much else to think about, but that. There is no amount of time behind bars that will ever be enough for what he did. His primary role as a husband and a father was to protect his family from harm. They should have been at their safest, at home, with him, but he destroyed that,” he added.

The officer also expressed his condolences to Anju's “devastated family in India”, who he said are still struggling to come to terms with what happened.

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Aditi Khanna
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