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Jiwan Ram guilty of murdering partner

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/09/2015

An Auckland man accused of stabbing his partner to death during an argument has been found guilty of murder.

It took a jury four hours to find former taxi driver Jiwan Ram, 63, guilty of murdering his 47-year-old de facto partner Bimla Wati by stabbing her six times with a large kitchen knife in November last year.

The jury returned hung after three hours on Wednesday, but was ordered to return to its deliberations.

They reached the unanimous verdict an hour later.

It was not disputed Ram stabbed Ms Wati during an argument but the defence argued it was manslaughter - not murder - because he was unaware of his actions and had no intention of killing her.

Before the seven men and five women of the jury retired on Wednesday, Justice Christian Whata told them there was only really one key question they had to answer in the trial.

"Are you sure Mr Ram intended to kill Ms Wati when he stabbed her," he said.

During the trial, a flatmate of the pair described seeing Ram pull the blade out of Ms Wati's chest.

Hardeep Singh said he heard a loud scream and found Ram standing over Ms Wati's body, holding a kitchen knife.

But he also said it was the first argument he had ever heard them have.

Ms Wati's niece, Rangeeta Gounder, told the court Ram sounded almost "proud" after that attack.

"You're too late, she's no more," he told her when she arrived.

The defence argued Ram's shock at an "inexplicable attack" afterwards, its five seconds in length, and the fact Ram and Ms Wati had a good relationship showed there was no intention.

There was nothing in their background to suggest Ram had any motivation or reason for the killing, the defence said.

In a police interview, Ram said the pair had scuffled over the knife and Ms Wati had shouted "kill me, kill me" and handed him the weapon.

"That's when I got really wild. She kept arguing, arguing, arguing. I just stabbed her," he told police.

In court, he said he could not recall what he was thinking in the moment.

"I didn't know myself," he said.

But the prosecution argued Ram was perfectly aware of what he was doing and the angle, number and depth of the wounds showed the attack was meant to kill.

The knife had gone in all the way to the handle, prosecutors said.

Crown lawyer Kirsten Lummis said Ms Wati was sitting down on a couch with a hair tie around her fingers at the moment Ram attacked her.

A call made by Ms Wati to Ms Gounder moments before the attack showed Ms Wati was calm - contrary to Ram's testimony, she told the court.

"The Crown says that this was a simple case where the defendant was so angry he wanted to hurt or kill Ms Wati," prosecutor Dale Dufty said.

Ram will be sentenced in November.

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