London: An Indian-origin father who was found hanging here earlier this year strangled his wife and twin teenage daughters before committing suicide following a violent row over his in-laws allegedly "cheating" him out of money, a UK court has been told.
Rethish Pullarkattil Kunjunny murdered wife Shighi Padmanabhan and his 13-year-old daughters Niya and Neha at their family home in Essex, north-east of London, in May. Two days later, the 44-year-old's body was found near a reservoir in east London with a note which said: "My mother in-law cheated me."
During an inquest last week at Walthamstow Coroners Court, it emerged that in the week before the murders Kunjunny attacked 37-year-old Shighi following a dispute about a property in India. Detective Sergeant John Logan, who investigated the deaths, said: "She (Shighi) had been punched and kicked and she had done the same back in retaliation."
Then on the day of the murders, May 10, a friend went round to the family home in the afternoon when Shighi said the "marriage was over" and they would be getting a divorce. "During that visit Kunjunny said words to the effect of 'if she wants a divorce that is what she can have'.
The friend offered her a place to stay but she refused citing work commitments," Logan told the court. The family of four had moved to the UK in 2005 from India and lived in Chadwell Heath area where the girls went to school.
Kunjunny, a chef, was sending money back to build a house which his in-laws were handling. It is believed Kunjunny murdered his wife and children by strangling them and then placed their bodies in two bedrooms of the home.
Coroner Ian Wade concluded: "It seems to me Kunjunny was a man of ordinary reasonable maturity, who had a job and a wife and two growing teenage daughters." "He also seems and appears to have had the deeply held the view, the obsessively held view, that he was being cheated by members of his wife's family' does not explain or justify what followed," Wade said.
"It perhaps indicates he was man who was deeply self-obsessed and had no proper insight into the collective interests and welfare of those he should have been responsible for. It appears to me he was driven to the point where he wielded the criminal urges which overwhelmed him to take the lives of his wife and two daughters," Wade said.
"I think it reasonable to conclude Kunjunny had committed a despicable act on his wife and children, and perhaps in part he was overwhelmed by the consequences of that, and he felt he must take his own life," Wade said.