Husband Sooraj Kumar was found guilty of wife Uthra’s murder after experts argued that deadly cobras do not climb into homes – and only stay on the ground
A man has been handed a double life sentence for using a starved highly venomous cobra to murder his wife.
Sooraj Kumar was found guilty of setting the snake upon the wealthy woman as she slept.
Bitten Uthra Kumar, 25, died after spending two months in hospital as medics desperately tried to save her life.
A court in Kerala, India, heard how he used the deadly reptile as an unorthodox murder weapon after becoming fed up of their relationship – before he was undone by an animal expert in court.
The country’s Supreme Court suggested it may be part of a growing trend where killers use poisonous snakes to pass off deaths as accidental.
AFP via Getty Images)
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Kumar was sentenced after being found guilty of murder on Monday.
According to prosecutors, Kumar married his wife for “financial gain” but soon plotted to end her life.
They said he became “dissatisfied” with the marriage and began conspiring to kill her.
Prosecutors said Kumar purchased a poisonous cobra from a snake charmer, starved it for a week to “render it more aggressive” and induced it to bite his wife.
Hariram Shankar, assistant superintendent of police in Kerala, told NBC News that the creature’s abdomen was empty.
“If he divorces her he will have to part with all her wealth,” he said.
“If he kills her through an explicit murder weapon, the wealth would also have to be returned. So he wanted to get rid of her through something that would resemble an accident.
“But in the course of our investigation, we found that this was a well-planned murder.”
It appears he was undone after experts told the court this particular snake does not climb – so therefore could not have got into the woman’s bedroom unless it was placed there.
“The viper is a completely terrestrial snake,” Shankar told the network.
“It is determined to live on the ground. It does not climb, but the viper was found in the bedroom of their home’s second floor after the first attempt.”
Kumar’s lawyer Aditya Choudhary said he had “argued that if the prosecution’s case is to be believed, then the snake was not accompanied by a snake charmer. Once it is let free it can bite anyone.”
Death by snakebite is common in India, with 1.2 million reported from 2000 to 2019, according to the World Health Organisation.