Parwinder Kaur’s injuries unlikely to be self-inflicted, burns expert tells court


August 15, 2019 15:53:56

A woman who was allegedly murdered by her husband likely had flammable liquid thrown onto her rather than pouring it over herself, a burns expert has told a Sydney court.

Key points:

  • The jury was told Parwinder Kaur had plans to leave the marriage, described as abusive and controlling
  • Her husband Kulwinder Singh is being tried in the Supreme Court for her murder
  • The defence case is that Ms Kaur set herself alight at their Rouse Hill home

Parwinder Kaur, 32, died in hospital a day after neighbours saw her covered in flames at her Rouse Hill home in December 2013.

Her husband Kulwinder Singh, 41, has pleaded not guilty to murder and claims his wife set herself alight.

The NSW Supreme Court has heard the fire was propelled by petrol and there was a cigarette lighter and tin of fuel found in the laundry.

Burns expert Peter Maitz, who examined photos of Ms Kaur, today told jurors she suffered full-thickness burns to 90 per cent of her body from a fire that involved flammable liquid.

But he said the injuries suggested it was more likely the accelerant was thrown or poured onto her by someone else.

“The fact that Ms Kaur has no burns to her scalp and upper face would be very unusual if the burns were self-inflicted,” Professor Maitz said.

“My personal experience, having treated dozens of patients that went through this unfortunate event, is that the vast majority survive and the vast majority have extremely deep burns on their scalp and face, because that’s where the liquid ignites first.”

The court has previously heard the only fingerprints found on the lighter and petrol tin belonged to Ms Kaur.

‘I felt for him’

The court was played a video of neighbour Michelle Hartmann doing a walkthrough with police at the scene, days after the incident.

In the video Ms Hartmann recalled running to the couple’s driveway after seeing a black plume of smoke and hearing screams.

She told officers Mr Singh’s hands were blistered and burnt.

She also overheard him being asked a question by an officer and replying, “She did it”.

“I felt for him and I was scared for him all in one,” Ms Hartmann said.

Ms Hartmann was the second neighbour to tell police she had never heard any arguments between the pair.

Husband also suffered burns, expert says

Neighbours have previously told the trial they saw Ms Kaur in a “full ball of fire” as she left her property and Mr Singh was close behind her, making a patting motion with his hands near the flames.

Professor Maitz said Mr Singh suffered partial thickness burns to the palm of his right hand and small blisters on several fingers, but of note was the sparing of the rest of his palm.

He said it was his opinion there was no patting of Ms Kaur’s body, because there would be “more diffused” burning if that was the case.

“It appears that the thumb and the second finger may have been extended and the other three fingers may have held onto something, thereby protecting the palm, rather than being outstretched,” he said.

The court has heard the death took place after an abusive, controlling relationship.

One neighbour claimed that, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Mr Singh said he “didn’t mean for this to happen” and that he had asked his wife to contribute more to the house, fearing they may lose it.

The jury has also been told Ms Kaur had made plans to leave the marriage.

The trial continues.






First posted

August 15, 2019 12:42:20

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