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Modern life, medieval sins - Indian guilty in killing of 'besotted' ex-boyfriend

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  • Published 26.02.12

London, Feb. 25: What is remarkable about this tale of passion, obsession, sex, betrayal and murder among Indians in England is the age of those involved.

Gagandip Singh, 21, who had inherited his father’s flourishing packaging business, appeared to be getting on reasonably well with Mundill Mahil, a medical student aged 20, after they first met in September 2009.

Till August 2010, when the young man tried to force his girlfriend to have sex with him and, thwarted by her, left in tears. He paid with his life for what the girl, who said she did not believe in sex before marriage, described as “attempted rape”.

Mundill sent a series of suggestive text messages to Gagandip six months later, inviting him to her rented bedroom in Brighton at 11pm.

Gagandip fell for it. Stopping at a petrol station to pick up some flowers and a teddy bear for Mundill, he turned up in his Mercedes. Waiting in her bedroom were Harvinder Shoker, 20, who himself had a crush on the girl. He had also drafted in an English schoolfriend, Darren Peters, to help him beat up Gagandip.

While the two men thrashed her one-time boyfriend, Mundill was in the kitchen downstairs scoffing “Key Lime Pie”, a tasty dessert.

At their trial, which ended yesterday, Shoker was found guilty of murder and Peters of manslaughter. The former will get life, the latter a long prison sentence. Mundill was found “guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent” but cleared of murder with which she had been charged.

Mundill said she hadn’t really intended Gagandip to be killed but to be given “a couple of slaps” so that he would “mend his ways”.

But it was too late for all that. The unconscious Gagandip was wrapped in Mundill’s duvet and bundled into the boot of the Mercedes in which he had arrived. The car was driven to Blackheath in south London and set alight with Gagandip still in the boot.

Medical tests later established that he was alive when the vehicle was torched. Within days, police had arrested Mundill, Harvinder and Darren.

Gagandip’s father had a successful packaging business in India. When money started leaking from the firm, he went to India to investigate but was killed. Gagandip took over the business in India and also started a Sikh TV channel on Sky in the UK.

Prosecution counsel Aftab Jafferjee QC (who also led the spot-fixing case against three Pakistani cricketers last year) told the jury the attack was carried out to “exact revenge and retribution” on Gagandip, who Mundill knew “remained besotted by her”.

Jafferjee argued that the attempted rape changed everything. “It is common ground that he tried to have sex with her by getting into her bed. Both were to describe it as an attempted rape — although, in fact, her description of events, even to her friends, suggests it did not get as far as that. It is common ground that he tried to have sex with her by getting into her bed. She forced him away, he broke down in tears and he left.”

Jafferjee told jurors: “Gagandip had his share of faults. There is no doubt about it. He may have deserved some punishment. But for a group of youngsters to… play God on the subject of religious duty and moral obligation is a grotesque turn of events. The reality is, this was vengeance for a sexual predator, which was the way they liked to portray the man who died. Everybody gets into this way of believing that this is an evil man who got his just deserts.”

Judge Paul Worsley said all the defendants would be given long sentences.

Mundill had said she did not believe in sex before marriage and had even resisted kissing. But the judge warned her: “I regard a long custodial sentence as virtually inevitable.”

Detective superintendent Damian Allain said: “Throughout this investigation and trial, Mundill Mahil portrayed herself as a victim, denying in any way that she had lured Gagandip to Brighton knowing that Shoker and Peters were going to attack him. She was at the heart of a criminal conspiracy with Shoker and Peters to draw Gagandip to Brighton to seriously assault him, which resulted in his death. All this from a medical student embarking on a career in the caring profession. I have no doubt (that) had it not been for the actions of her deceit and trickery that night, Gagandip would not have been murdered.”