R v Lakhvir Kaur Singh (Central Criminal Court ) February 2010

This case attracted nationwide media coverage with the defendant being called “The Curry Poisoner.” The defendant was convicted at the Old Bailey on 10 February 2010 of the murder of her ex-lover and grievous bodily harm against his new fiancée. She was acquitted of the attempted murder of the fiancee and of administering poison to her ex-lover's food on a previous occasion. 

This was an unusual case as the prosecution case was that Lakvhir Singh used the most deadly form of aconite, aconite ferox, known as the Queen of poisons, in order to poison her lover of 16 years who had become engaged to a 19 year old girl.

This poison was last featured in a criminal trial in England and Wales in 1882 when Doctor George Lamson used it to poison his 18 year old crippled brother-in-law in order to acquire an inheritance. He was convicted at the Old Bailey and hanged.

In this case the Crown alleged that the defendant had gone to India to acquire the aconite. Mrs Singh had then administered the poison into some left over curry found in the deceased’s fridge. The case for the Crown was that if she could not have her lover no one else would.

Mrs Singh was on bail during the length of the trial; she had been granted bail after spending two months in custody. Bail is extremely unusual in cases of murder.

The Crown was sought a minimum of 30 years imprisonment to reflect the gravity of the case, the degree of premeditation, and there being more than one victim. By reason of the acquittal of the defendant of counts one [administering poison] and three [attempted murder of Gurjeet Choongh] Sir Desmond de Silva QC submitted that she should not be sentenced as a cold blooded aconite assassin but rather as someone who sought to win back the heart of her lover by nursing him back to health having rendered him ill with the part herbal remedy she had brought back from the Punjab.

HHJ Worsley QC in his sentencing remarks he stated that he was satisfied that when Lakvir had travelled to India her mind had already turned to the possibility of murder. He said “You were not just a spurned lover; you did not simply explode in anger at your rejection. You set about a cold and calculating revenge.”

She received a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 23 years.

The Rt Hon Sir Desmond  de Silva PC QC
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Nicholas Wayne
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