‘Wife’s fatal burns unlikely to be self-inflicted’: Expert

A SYDNEY woman allegedly set on fire by her husband was very unlikely to have killed herself as he claims, a burns expert told his murder trial.

Kulwinder Singh has pleaded not guilty to burning his wife Parwinder Kaur to death at their Rouse Hill home in December 2013, saying he'd rushed downstairs to discover she'd doused herself in petrol and set herself alight.

University of Sydney Professor Peter Maitz told the Supreme Court jury that Ms Kaur suffered burns to 90 per cent of her body but said it would be "very unusual" if they were self inflicted.

Kulwinder Singh arrives at his Supreme Court murder trial in Sydney. Credit: AAP
Kulwinder Singh arrives at his Supreme Court murder trial in Sydney. Credit: AAP

The Concord Hospital Burns Unit medical director said Ms Kaur was not burned on her head, while dozens of his patients who have attempted suicide this way have poured flammable liquids over their heads before igniting it.

"The vast majority survived and the vast majority have extremely deep burns on their scalp and face, because that's what ignites first," he said on Thursday.

"It's more likely the accelerant has been thrown over her by others."

A neighbour said the 41-year-old cried out "my life is ruined … I'm a good man" moments after his screaming wife came down their driveway in a giant ball of orange fire on the afternoon of December 2.

Parwinder Kaur died after suffering burns to 90 per cent of her body.
Parwinder Kaur died after suffering burns to 90 per cent of her body.
The lighter found at the scene.
The lighter found at the scene.

On Tuesday, witness Tracey Valle testified that the distraught railway worker told her: "I didn't mean for this to happen … I just told her she needed to contribute to the house" as he placed his head in his burnt and blackened hands.

Prof Maitz said Singh's burn injuries indicate his thumb and second finger may have been extended in the position of a gun, while he held something in his bottom three fingers.

"The burn pattern on his right hand suggests he may have handled something at the time his hand was burnt?" Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell QC asked.

"Yes, because it was protected,' Prof Maitz said.

Singh's defence barrister Margaret Cunneen SC notes that only Ms Kaur's fingerprints were found on the cigarette lighter and petrol container found at the crime scene.

Fellow neighbour Michelle Hartmann said she saw a frantic Singh follow his wife down their driveway as he patted his wife's burning shoulder, but Prof Maitz said his burn injuries weren't consistent with him trying to extinguish the fire.

"If he would have been patting something or somebody on fire, he would have had more extensive burns to his arms," he said

The couple’s home and driveway at Rouse Hill following Ms Kaur’s death.
The couple’s home and driveway at Rouse Hill following Ms Kaur’s death.
Neighbours reported seeing a ball of orange fire outside the home.
Neighbours reported seeing a ball of orange fire outside the home.

Ms Valle also said Singh told her he'd been near their car when his wife came outside their house engulfed in flames.

"He seemed panicked … it was all 'my life is ruined'. I'm thinking, your wife. Your wife," the tearful witness said during a police walk-through filmed four days after the incident.

Just 12 minutes before witnesses saw Ms Kaur alight, she phoned triple-zero saying "my husband nearly kill me".

The Crown says that desperate cry for help capped an abusive eight-year relationship which prompted the wife to demand a divorce.

The trial continues before Justice Natalie Adams.



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