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  • 43 year old Manjinderjit Ghuman (R), who was allegedly murdered by her husband Balwinder Singh Ghuman at their Gordonvale home in Cairns in March 2016. (9 News)
'My Mum and grandmother will not be there on my wedding day,' Mr Ghuman's 20-year-old daughter, Manraj Ghuman said in her victim impact statement read out in the Cairns Supreme Court on Thursday.
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17 May 2019 - 1:22 PM  UPDATED 17 May 2019 - 1:24 PM

Balwinder Singh Ghuman has been sentenced to life in jail after being found guilty of the murder of his wife, Manjinderjit Kaur Ghuman and mother in law, Sukhwinder Kaur Johal in March 2016.

In addition, the 46-year-old man from Gordanvale was also found guilty of attempting to murder his father-in-law Sukhwinder Johan and of unlawfully wounding his daughter Manraj Ghuman in a Cairns Supreme Court on Thursday.

Mr Ghuman who had pleaded not guilty to any of the charges told the court through a Punjabi interpreter that he should not be sentenced as he was “mentally unfit” at the time of the attacks.

During a trial that lasted over a week, his defence too unsuccessfully argued that his client was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and alcoholism and could not form the requisite intention to kill.

The jury deliberated for over three hours before handing out a life sentence to Mr Ghuman for the two murders, fifteen years for the attempted murder and two years for unlawful wounding, with a non-parole period of 30 years.

Punjabi origin man accused of murdering wife and mother in law at their Cairns home
A Cairns man allegedly killed his wife and mother-in-law after an argument about his heavy drinking.

Case background:

During a week-long trial, the court heard that Mr Ghuman’s arranged marriage with Manjinderjit was riddled with trouble because of his heavy drinking and resentment towards her family.

He told the court that he had moved to Australia from the northern Indian state of Punjab in search for a “good life”

But eventually, he stopped paying attention to his wife and daughter and even stopped working as a taxi driver, the court heard.

'Good men don't murder': DV campaigner criticises media portrayal of killers

“Killers are often reported in the media as good blokes or good husbands or otherwise good men who just snapped,” says Tarang Chawla, Our Watch ambassador and well-known campaigner for prevention of violence against women. 

“But good men do not murder their wives, their girlfriends or their partners, and it’s important that the media doesn’t give time to this view.”

On the day of the attack on March 14, 2016, his wife asked him to leave the family which led to a full-blown domestic feud.

And Mr Ghuman who was already drunk lost control and in a frenzied moment stabbed Maninderjeet and her mother more than 20 times each in their head, neck and chest.

The attack was so fierce that a part of the kitchen knife broke off in his wife’s face, the trial heard.

He even stabbed his father-in-law and injured his daughter during their attempts to save the two dying members of the family.

Mr Ghuman than chased the two surviving members on to the street, shouting in Punjabi that he would kill them while beating his chest calling himself a lion, the court heard.

'It’s decided, we must kill her'
Sarbjit Kaur Athwal froze when she heard her mother-in-law utter those words, and within three weeks her sister-in-law was dead after being lured from London to India, her body dumped in a river.

‘Unimaginable grief’:

Summing up the trial, Justice James Henry told the court that, “The sad reality of human affairs is that the savage killings of loved ones or family members can be caused by an emotional or drunken response to rejection," reported ABC News.

“(My) impression overall is that you are not a particularly sophisticated reasoner - that even without paranoid schizophrenia you did not have a particularly robust psyche and were not well equipped to think philosophically how to cope with the end of your domestic existence,” the Justice added.

“You inflicted unimaginable grief.”

‘Selfish man’:

Calling her father a ‘selfish man,’ 20-year-old Ms Ghuman told the court that she wished it was her who was dead instead of her mum and grandmother.

“My Mum and grandmother will not be there on my wedding day,” an emotional Ms Manraj said in the victim impact statement that was read out in the court.

Those experiencing violence in a relationship can seek help at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).  

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