A double killer wanted in the US spent more than 10 years on the run and was found hanged in his British prison cell just days after his real identity was finally discovered, an inquest heard.
International fugitive Lovkesh Kumar, 42, fled the United States in 2003 where he was wanted for the brutal double murder of his young wife and his mother-in-law, who were stabbed to death and then chopped up.
He was featured on America’s Most Wanted but slipped into the UK as Sarbjit Singh, living a life of petty crime while at the centre of an international manhunt.
But his past finally began to catch up with him while serving time behind bars for drug dealing offences, the inquest heard.
After a tip-off to Interpol, Kumar was taken from Highpoint jail in Suffolk to Westminster Magistrates’ Court facing extradition to the US over the murders of his 23-year-old wife Pooja and her mother Nirja in California.
He was then transferred to Wandsworth jail in south London, Westminster Coroner’s Court, sitting at the High Court, was told.
Subsequent fingerprint analysis confirmed that he was Kumar, and he confirmed to a police officer that Kumar was his real name.
He was found hanging in his cell at Wandsworth jail just three days after appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court
He was accused of stabbing his wife and mother-in-law to death at the family home in California, before cutting up their bodies with a butcher’s knife in January 2003 before fleeing the States.
Kumar had actually entered the UK under a false name, Sarbjit Singh, in 2004.
His body was found in his cell on September 6th, 2014, while he was serving a 33-month prison sentence for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
Three days before, he had appeared in court for another extradition hearing, and another one was scheduled to take place in November that year.
In a statement read to the inquest, prison officer Tom Carter said: “He was moved up to that cell and was content to my knowledge and never had any problems with his cell mate.
“He is pretty quiet. He very rarely left the cell. He would usually be in bed which would be the predominant time I would see him. I am usually in the office.
“He never gave me the impression he was scared. He was calm in response. He never struck me as a man who was frightened, I would say.”
Kirsten Ross, a primary care nurse at Wandsworth jail, said she attempted to save Kumar.
In a statement read to the hearing, she said: “I do not think that there was anything else at that immediate time that could have been done.”
Coroner Bernard Richmond QC told jurors: “There was a police investigation.
“That police investigation did not reveal anything suspicious.
“The position really is this – the police, the prison, everyone has checked to see there was no third party involvement in this.
“And there is absolutely no evidence to suggest there was any third party. He went into his cell, the cell was locked. He did not trouble anyone in the night. And he was found.”
His father-in-law, Vijay Narula, offered a £10,000 reward for Kumar’s capture in his native India where he was thought to have been hiding.
After arriving in Britain, he spent the next decade serving a series of jail terms as he carried out a wave of crimes here, including criminal damage and drug dealing.
Kumar was known as Sarbjit Singh throughout his time in the prison system – even at the time of his death.
The fugitive is also believed to have used a host of other different aliases including Said Ali, Rakesh Kumar, Bobby Kumar, Bobby Vasudeva and Malkiat Singh.
His true identity and status as one of America’s most wanted men were discovered only after Interpol got a tip-off.
DNA and fingerprints taken from the scene of the 2003 murders in Clovis, California were sent to Scotland Yard and a match was eventually made with Kumar.
He was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard’s extradition squad after he was sent to Westminster Magistrates’ Court from Highpoint prison in Newmarket, Suffolk, in July.
He had been serving a two years-and-nine months’ jail term for possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.
Police caught him with 50 wraps of cocaine and ten of heroin.
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