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A woman has been jailed for manslaughter

News   •   Apr 05, 2019 14:43 BST

[Jailed: Packiam Ramanathan]

A woman who killed her elderly husband with a wooden-pole has been jailed.

Packiam Ramanathan, 73 (05.05.45), of Burges Road, E6, was sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment at the Old Bailey on Friday, 5 April.

She was convicted of the manslaughter of her husband Kangusabi Ramanathan at the same court on Monday, 1 April, following a trial.

She was found not guilty of murder, but had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the ground of loss of control on Monday, 4 March.

Police were called to Burges Road, E6, at 14:21hrs on 21 September 2018 by the London Ambulance Service following the death of an elderly man.

Officers attended and found 76-year-old Kangusabi Ramanathan deceased in the home the couple had shared since 2007.

Detectives who searched the Ramanathan’s home found a long blood-stained wooden-pole in the entrance hall cupboard. It was established that this was the weapon used in the assault on Kanagsubai.

Packiam was charged with murder on 23 September 2018.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be head and neck injuries. The pathologist noted that Kangusabi had 18 external injuries.

The court heard that the couple got married in Sri Lanka, where they were both born, in August 1983 and they went to live with Kangusabi’s family in his home village. In 1985, the couple left Sri Lanka because of the civil war and went to Germany before moving to Burges Road, East Ham in 2007.

They would often go back to Sri Lanka, and on several occasions Packiam refused to return with her husband. In 2012, after a trip to Sri Lanka, Packiam refused to return and stayed in Sri Lanka until 2014 when she briefly returned to London but she then went back in August 2015. On this occasion, her husband reported her as a missing person to the police and he was told she had gone to Sri Lanka.

Kangusabi’s health was deteriorating at this point and he was being cared for by relatives and carers.

In March 2018, Kangusabi asked a relative who was going to Sri Lanka to speak to Packiam and bring her back with her, which she did. At this point, Kangusabi was in poor health and disabled, requiring the use of a wheelchair and mobility aids.

At the time of Kangusabi’s death, Packiam had been back living with him for six months.

The relative who bought Packiam back to London lived in the same street as the Ramanathans and she visited Kangusabi every day. She also did his shopping for him and looked after his affairs with the help of her husband.

When she first started looking after Kangusabi in 2016 she asked him where his wife was. He explained she was always fighting with him and would sometimes leave him. On this occasion she left when he went into hospital and did not return, taking £5,000 of his money with her.

Packiam would often complain to the relative about Kangusabi saying that she hated living with him and that he would not give her enough money for food. The relative had herself witnessed arguments between them about money. However, both Packiam and Kangusabi made it clear to the relative and numerous other witnesses that they had never been physically violent towards each other.

The relative also used to post letters for Kangusabi. Two days before his death, on Wednesday, 19 September, he told the relative he had written a letter and asked her to post it for him. When she went round the next day, he said he would give her the address later but asked her to keep the letter safe for him. He had already given her his passport and other documents to keep as well as his bankcard.

The letter was titled ‘Breach of Trust and Cheating’ and was addressed to the Sri Lankan Police. The jury heard that the letter set out that Kangusabi had given some land documents, about 60 gold sovereigns and gold jewellery to Packiam’s younger brother, effectively for safe-keeping, and that he had refused to return them to him. Kangusabi was asking the police to enquire into it for him and to file a case against the brother, who still lived in Sri Lanka.

Packiam was present when Kangusabi gave the letter to his relative and she snatched it from her and read it. She was very angry at the contents and told the relative that if her brother got harassed by the police because of this, she would not watch idly.

It had been the practise of Kangusabi to phone his relative every morning at about 10am and then she would go round to the flat to see him. On Friday 21 September, there was no phone call and so at lunch-time, she went around to the flat. She got to the door at about 13:05hrs and tried to use her key to enter, but the door was locked from the inside.

She knocked on the door and Packiam answered, appearing ‘very normal.’ She asked where Kangusabi was and was led into the kitchen by her arm by Packiam. As they made their way to the kitchen, Packiam saw Kangusabi laying on his bed and thought he was asleep.

Packiam asked the relative to sit down and said: “I have beaten him.” The relative replied ‘what’ and Packiam said: “I am telling you what has happened. I have hit him, beaten him. He died.”

When Packiam explained what she had done, the relative stood up in shock and was extremely frightened. She said she was leaving and left the flat at 13:19hrs. Packiam did not say anything else.

The relative went home stunned by what she had heard and called her husband, asking him to come home. While waiting for her husband to return, she saw Packiam leave her house at 13:38hrs. She ran off and asked her where she was going, and Packiam replied ‘Wimbledon.’

The relative’s husband got home and called the London Ambulance Service at 14:09hrs. The operator asked the husband to go round to the Ramanathan’s home, where he found Kangusabi lying on his bed ‘with his head full of blood.’

Paramedics arrived at 14:18hrs and called the police to inform them of a potential murder. One of the attending paramedics believed Kangusabi had been dead for at least three hours.

Officers, including detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, attended and spoke to the relative. The relative told officers that Packiam said she had been arguing with Kangusabi the previous night and that morning and that she had beaten him. The relative gave officers Packiam’s mobile number so they could track her movements and handed over the letter as well as the other items Kangusabi gave her for safe-keeping.

Officers tracked Packiam to an address in Wimbledon, which was her friend’s house. Officers knocked on the door just after midnight and Packiam answered, telling officers she had been expecting them.

Officers asked the friend if Packiam was wearing the same clothes she arrived in, which the friend confirmed she was. The friend also told officers that Packiam arrived with a tan coloured handbag, which she asked the friend not to tell the police about if they came. The handbag was found hidden behind the television, and contained a photocopy of her passport and three passport photos together with a number of personal items, a large quantity of Rupees in notes and coins and an envelope containing £670 English bank notes.

Detective Sergeant Anthony Atkin, the investigating officer from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “The jury carefully considered the evidence placed before them and felt that this was a sad case whereby Packiam Ramanathan had killed her husband, Kangusabi. In a moment, for one or a number of reasons, she lost self-control therefore is not guilty of murder but of manslaughter, to which Packiam had already pleaded guilty to.

“This was a tragic case whereby an elderly, vulnerable man lost his life and the circumstances surrounding how and why needed to be put to a jury in order that they could listen to Packiam’s account and test this against the evidence.

“I thank them for their time and careful deliberations following which they came to this verdict. I hope the conviction and sentencing will give some closure to Kangusabi’s family.”