A man who shot his pregnant ex-wife with a crossbow claims he had only wanted to confront her new partner about allegedly forcing his daughter to live as a Muslim.
Ramanodge Unmathallegadoo, 51, killed 35-year-old Devi Unmathallegadoo at the home she shared with her husband on the morning of November 12 2018.
Their arranged marriage had broken down in 2012 and she had since married builder Imtiaz Muhammad.
Unmathallegadoo, a former site manager at Newham General Hospital, allegedly became obsessed with getting revenge on the pair, and built up a cache of weapons costing thousands of pounds, even though he had been sleeping rough after losing his job.
He spent the night before the attack sleeping in the victim’s garden shed, armed with two new crossbows, bolts, a hammer and a knife in a homemade sheath.
The Old Bailey heard that Unmathallegadoo, known as Ram, had chased Mr Muhammad into the house armed with his two crossbows and a knife after the second man had come to put something in the shed.
The defendant shot Mrs Unmathallegadoo through the abdomen as she attempted to flee upstairs at the family home in Ilford, east London.
She suffered catastrophic internal injuries and died a short while later, but her unborn son was delivered by emergency caesarean section and survived.
But in his evidence, Unmathallegadoo claimed he had only wanted to confront Mr Muhammad for allegedly forcing his 12-year-old daughter with his ex-wife to live as a Muslim.
He explained how he had spent more than two hours hoisting all his equipment over three garden fences and into the victim’s garden shed on the evening before the killing.
“I only wanted to confront Imtiaz over the treatment my daughter was going through – he would force her to pray in the Islamic faith and she didn’t want to.
“She was forced to eat halal food and she was forced to wear non-European clothes.”
He claimed Mr Muhammad had prevented his daughter from celebrating Halloween or Christmas, and that he had confiscated a mobile phone he had given her.
The court heard Unmathallegadoo was barred from contacting his children by a restraining order, but claimed he had spoken to his daughter on her way to school.
“I could sense her saying ‘daddy help’ – you could see it in her face and in her eyes,” he said.
When asked why he had not just knocked on the door to talk to the family, he replied: “I couldn’t. I was scared of Imtiaz as well. He was a big man.”
“The crossbows were basically a deterrent so I didn’t get attacked by Imtiaz,” he said.
He told the court how he felt about his wife having two more children with Mr Muhammad, and her pregnancy. He said: “It was nothing to do with me. I was past that. That’s her life.”
Describing the attack, he said: “I wanted to confront [Mr Muhammad] I wanted to talk to him but he just ran without stopping.”
He said both Mr Muhammad and the victim had tried to run upstairs and that he had been aiming the crossbow into the wooden railing of the bannisters.
Unmathallegadoo said he had been looking for the safety catch when he accidentally fired the crossbow.
But he told the court he wanted the safety catch to be off, so he could fire it, claiming he planned to shoot into the bannister rail to make a loud noise and scare the couple.
“As soon as it was fired I felt really helpless, as soon as it discharged I went to the kitchen to get the other one.”
Unmathallegadoo said the first time he realised anyone was hurt was when he heard one of the children on the phone to the emergency services.
His eldest son managed to wrestle the second crossbow out of his hands, he told the court.
“We were struggling with the crossbow. I was scared it might discharge and hurt his finger,” he said.
When asked how he felt about killing the victim, he replied: “I feel really, really distressed at the thought that she got hurt because of me – I feel bad for the children, for Imtiaz himself and his children.”
He denied stockpiling weapons with the intention of killing his former partner, claiming that he had bought them to take back to his native Mauritius so he could go hunting with his brother.
The court heard that he was sleeping rough but still ordered a crossbow worth more than £1,000.
In his evidence, Mr Muhammad said: “[The defendant] did not waste a second. He seemed like he had training.”
He said the bolt entered his wife’s body so he could only see the end of it.
He went on: “When he was coming in the corridor I was in front of him but he was not looking at me. He was focused on her.”
The defendant, formerly of Ilford, has denied murder and the attempted destruction of the unborn child.
In cross-examination, Unmathallegadoo repeated his claim that he had bought lots of high-tech hunting equipment to send to his brother in Mauritius.
He admitted that he had not checked to see how much posting such heavy items would cost, or whether the retailers could have sent them to his brother directly.
A claimed that a detailed handwritten note with all his ex-wife and children’s comings and goings were just so he would know when he might bump into his kids on the way to school.
Prosecutor Peter Wright QC asked if he was trying to find a moment when his own children were out of the house to attack the victim and her new family.
Mr Wright said: “You we’re entering the final phase of your plan to murder your ex-wife and kill the baby she was carrying and to kill the man that she was now living with.”
Unmathallegadoo replied: “That is absolutely incorrect.”