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Man accused of murder says he heard "whoosh" from shed

By Daniel Fogarty
Thu Oct 8 20:27:12 EST 2009
Thu Oct 8 09:27:12 UTC 2009

MELBOURNE, Oct 8 AAP - A man accused of murdering his wife by setting her on fire told police he had seen her smoking in the shed when he heard a "whoosh".

Kamleshwar Naidu is charged with murdering his wife Jayanti at her home in the Melbourne suburb of Doveton in June 2006.

Police believe Mrs Naidu, 25, was standing at the time petrol was "splashed or poured" over her and she was set alight, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.

Mrs Naidu had allegedly told her boss she planned to leave her husband about six weeks before she died.

As they rushed to the scene police were told a woman had poured kerosene over herself and set herself on fire.

Former Arson Squad Detective Sergeant John Gibson said Naidu told police he had gone inside after seeing his wife smoking in the shed.

"He then heard a `whoosh' and went back to the shed where he found his wife on fire," Det Gibson said.

Police found Mrs Naidu in the shower with serious burns to her body.

She died two days later in The Alfred hospital.

Tracey Hurst, who was Mrs Naidu's boss at the Oakleigh nursing home, said a week before Mrs Naidu's death another worker told her that Mrs Naidu had tried to commit suicide.

"(A friend of Mrs Naidu's) told me that Jayanti had taken an overdose of medication and had also tried to hang herself but had been found by her husband," she said.

A few weeks earlier Mrs Naidu had confided in her boss that she was planning on leaving her husband.

She also talked about returning to Fiji to see her family, Ms Hurst told the court.

A friend of Naidu's, Parma Nand, said Naidu told him in 2008 that he had had a "tragedy".

He later told him his wife had burnt herself.

Naidu was arrested in August 2008 more than two years after his wife's death.

Victoria Police forensic chemist John Kelleher said when he examined the shed he found bits of skin, paper and plastic.

A soot trail led to the bathroom, he said.

Mr Kelleher said the cause of the fire was ignition of petrol from a two-stroke container or whipper snipper that he found at the home.

He could not determine the source of the ignition and said while cigarette butts were found in the shed he did not find a lighter or matches.

In his report on the fire Mr Kelleher found "the deceased was standing at the time of the fire and probably at the time the petrol was splashed and poured over her clothing".

Naidu, 34, of Hallam, and his family had migrated to Australia in November 2005.

The contested committal hearing before Magistrate Sarah Dawes continues on Friday.