The murderer of a former Emirates airlines hostess and her siblings in Australia in 2003 has been sentenced to 35 years without parole, media reports said on Thursday.
A court in Brisbane, where the triple-murder took place, sentenced 42-year-old Max Sica after convicting him on Wednesday of killing his former Indian-origin girlfriend Neelma Singh, 24, and her brother Kunal, 18, and sister Sidhi, 12.
They were killed at their Brisbane home following a series of altercations between Sica and Neelma and her family.
Neelma had left Australia in early 2002 for training as an Emirates cabin crew in Dubai, the reports added. Sica, who was married with two children used bleach to clean up the crime scene and wash away DNA before he called police 36 hours later pretending to have chanced upon the crime scene.
Nearly 100 police officers exhausted over 1,500 lines of inquiry and eliminated 300 DNA profiles during murder investigations before nailing Sica who was arrested in 2008.
Australian media reports said Neelma and Sica became romantically involved towards the end of 2001, though her family did not approve of their relationship as Sica had a criminal record and was on parole in connection with another case.
Neelma left Australia in March 2002 to begin training as a flight attendant for Emirates airline in Dubai, but the two remained in touch over phone. During the hearing, the court heard how Sica threatened her parents he would “risk it all” by flying to Dubai to be reunited with her, if that is what it took for the two of them to be together.
In police interviews, Sica said by risking it all, he meant he would break the terms of his parole agreement.
The dynamics between the couple changed in 2003 when Neelma returned to Australia and wanted to break off with him. Their rocky relationship turned more sour when the jilted lover posted nude photographs of Neelma to her family and friends. “It was an effort to shame her and to distance her from her family so she would fall into his arms — it didn’t work,” prosecutor Michael Byrne told Brisbane Supreme Court.
When the ploy backfired Sica concocted a story saying he had an “incurable brain tumour” and had weeks to live.
Neelma fell for the ruse and rang a friend in Dubai at 3am on April 19 saying she had forgiven Sica “for what he had done” because he had a “brain tumour” and was about to die.
She organised prayer blessings for Sica, but at the same time she also got suspicious of the tumour story and spoke to a doctor about her concerns.
Sica went to the Singh home on the night of April 20, 2003, to talk with Neelma but when she rejected his overtures, he strangled her in a fit of rage.
Later he killed her brothers Kunal and Sidhi with a garden fork because he feared they would identify him.
Sica showed no emotion as a jury delivered the guilty verdicts in a packed courtroom.
“I didn’t kill no one... the Queensland justice system is corrupt,” he muttered when asked if he wanted to say anything.