Devendra Singh was sentenced to life imprisonment on 25th June 2013 following his conviction the day before for the murder of his wife, Charlotte Smith. The tariff (the minimum period that Mr Singh will have to serve before he can be released) was set at 16 years.
Mr Singh, aged 33, had been married to Ms Smith (aged 41) for two years. It seemed that the marriage had hit difficulties and Ms Smith had told him that it was over. Mr Singh reacted by beating her to death with a wooden statue of an elephant. After this he used her mobile phone (and money that he had stolen from her) to go to London and send text messages pretending that she was alive.
When Ms Smith’s body was discovered three days later however he gave himself up to the police. At the trial he accepted killing her, but co tended that the proper verdict was not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, presumably on the basis of ‘loss of control’. This was rejected by the jury.
Why 16 years? Is that the correct ‘tariff’?
On overview of how murderers are sentenced is here. This falls into the category of murders with a starting point of 15 years. The abandoning of Ms Smith’s body and theft of her money along with an (unsophisticated) attempt to pretend that she was alive are factors that aggravate matters. On the other hand, the fact that he had handed himself in, and had accepted responsibility for her death, were both factors in his favour.
It would seem that these different factors balance each other out and a tariff of around the 15 year mark is what would be expected, which is what he got. Some judges may have given 14 or 15 years, others perhaps 17, but an appeal is unlikely to be unsuccessful.
As always, it must be remembered that this is a life sentence, so Mr Singh cannot be released until the Parole Board have assessed it to be safe to release him after he has been in prison for 16 years. There is no possibility of him being released before then. Even after his release, he will remain in licence for the rest of his life, and can be recalled if those supervising lose touch with him or have concerns about his behaviour.