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Vengeful ex-husband guilty of crossbow murder of pregnant woman

Devi Muhammad suffered catastrophic internal injuries and died while her unborn son was delivered by Caesarean section and survived.

Mother-of-five Devi Muhammad who was fatally shot with a crossbow while heavily pregnant (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Mother-of-five Devi Muhammad who was fatally shot with a crossbow while heavily pregnant (Metropolitan Police/PA)

By Emily Pennink, Old Bailey Correspondent, PA

An obsessed man has been found guilty of shooting his heavily pregnant ex-wife dead with a crossbow.

Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, 51, burst into the home of mother-of-five Devi Muhammad, formerly known as Unmathallegadoo, and fired an arrow into her stomach as she fled upstairs.

Mrs Muhammad, 35, suffered catastrophic internal injuries and died while her unborn son was delivered by Caesarean section and miraculously survived.

The defendant showed no emotion in the dock as he was found guilty by the retrial jury after four hours of deliberations.

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Ramanodge Muhammad was caught on police body worn camera footage after shooting his ex-wife with a crossbow (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Judge Mark Lucraft QC remanded him in custody to be sentenced on November 29.

The judge told him: “You have been convicted of the most horrendous crime in the face of your own children and it’s extremely grave what you have carried out.”

The defendant nodded and thanked the judge as he was send down.

A further charge of attempted child destruction, not put to the fresh jury, is expected to lie on file.

The court had heard how the victim had an arranged marriage to the defendant in Mauritius on her 16th birthday. He was 30 at the time, nearly twice her age.

Their unhappy relationship ended in 2012 after an incident in which she jumped out of an upstairs window and broke her ankle.

After a trial in 2013, he was cleared of attacking her and acquitted on the judge’s direction of a charge of attempted strangulation under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.

The victim successfully filed for an emergency non-molestation order which barred the defendant from coming within 100 metres of the family home in Ilford, east London.

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The family home in Applegarth Drive, Ilford, east London, where heavily pregnant Devi Unmathallegadoo, 35, was fatally shot with a crossbow (Emma Bowden/PA)

Under the order, which was still in place at the time of the killing, Unmathallegadoo was forbidden from contacting his ex-wife directly and was not to threaten or intimidate her or their three children.

Following her divorce, she married builder Imtiaz Muhammad and changed her name to Sana Muhammad.

The couple went on to have two children together and were eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of their third last autumn.

Meanwhile, the defendant lost his job as a site manager at Newham General Hospital and slept rough as he plotted revenge.

He bought two crossbows online for around £250 each – an MK-XB 55 Package Red Dot and a Hori-Zone Alfa XT – which were discovered stashed near his ex-wife’s home by a neighbour in March 2018.

After they were removed, Unmathallegadoo set about replacing them, and organised surveillance on the house in Applegarth Drive.

On the morning of November 12 2018, he took up position in the garden shed armed with two crossbows, bolts, a knife, duct tape, cable ties and a hammer.

He was disturbed by Mr Muhammad who had gone into the garden to store an empty box while his wife prepared food for a dinner party that evening.

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Unmathallegadoo was caught on police body-worn camera footage as he was arrested (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Mr Muhammad called for his wife to run as he was chased into the house, the court was told.

As Unmathallegadoo’s oldest children rushed in to disarm him, the defendant said: “It would have been easier if you guys weren’t here, like I would have done it.”

Afterwards, he told police he was aiming for Mr Muhammad but his former spouse got in the way.

Giving evidence, he claimed the crossbow went off by accident and he bought the weapons to go hunting in Mauritius with his brother.

He told jurors he only wanted to confront Mr Muhammad about his concerns that his daughter was being brought up a Muslim.

But the prosecution argued Unmathallegadoo’s plan had been to restrain the family and at least kill the two adults and the unborn child.

The jury in Unmathallegadoo’s first trial was discharged after a juror raised an issue of psychiatric illness against the judge’s direction not to speculate and despite no evidence being heard about his mental state.

PA

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