London, Feb.11: Lakhvinder Cheema, 39, and his fiancee Gurjeet Choongh planned to marry just weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, and hoped to soon start a family. But their dreams were shattered when Cheema’s spurned former lover, a mother of three, took a deadly revenge using the plant aconite, or wolfsbane, a deadly ancient toxin known as the ’Queen of Poisons’.
Lakhvir Kaur Singh, 45, who had been having a secret affair with Cheema for 16 years, was prepared to kill rather than share him with someone else.
Despite being married with three children, Singh was filled with jealousy and rage after learning that her lover was to marry a woman half her age.
She planted the poison in a chicken curry eaten by Mr Cheema and his 22-year-old fiancee two weeks before their planned wedding last year.
Cheema, who was paralysed less than an hour after eating the dish, died soon after arriving at hospital but managed to name his killer with his last breath.
His fiancee survived only because she had eaten less of the meal.
On Wednesday, Lakhvir Kaur became the first person to be convicted of murder using the rare poison since 1882, reports The Mail, London.
An Old Bailey jury also convicted her of causing grievous bodily harm by poisoning Gurjit Choongh in the attack in January last year.
Singh, who was related to her lover by marriage, had been having an affair for years while her husband Aunkar, 57, was receiving different treatments for cancer.
The relationship started when Cheema, known as Lucky, moved into the family’s home in Southall, West London, after his first marriage failed. Singh, trapped in a loveless marriage arranged when she was 20, set out to seduce their new tenant.
Even when Cheema, a cleaner, moved out and bought his own home, their clandestine meetings continued. Singh became pregnant twice but each time her lover made her have an abortion, terrified of the shame that their affair would bring if it was discovered.
For years Singh visited his house every day to clean, cook and do his laundry with all the devotion of a wife. But their relationship faltered when Cheema was introduced to Gurjit Choongh, an illegal immigrant.
After the pair became engaged, Singh bombarded her lover with text messages begging him to break off the engagement, calling him a ’bastard’ and saying her heart was broken.
She threatened to burn down his house after finding him in bed with his fiancee. When Cheema refused to break it off, she plotted her revenge.
On a trip to India she bought the aconite, described as ’the ancient choice of poisoners’, supposedly used by witches in the Middle Ages.
Victims suffer severe vomiting, clammy skin, a tingling of the hands and feet, and the sensation of ants crawling over the body. Like cyanide, it stops the heart and other internal organs from working, causing death by asphyxiation.
On January 27 last year, Singh sneaked into his house in Feltham, West London, and sprinkled the poison in a tupperware box containing a curry in the fridge.
Later, when Cheema and his fiancee ate the curry, both started to feel seriously unwell.
Suspicious that Singh had poisoned them, he called 999, telling an operator: ’Someone put poison in our food. She is my ex-girlfriend.’
Cheema screamed ’please help’ as he lost vision and control of his arms and legs. He was violently ill as he was carried to a car by family members who took him to hospital after paramedics failed to turn up. s Choongh tried to reach for her fiance’s hand as they were driven to the hospital, but she too was paralysed by the poison.
Cheema lost consciousness in hospital and died. Choongh was put into a medically induced coma to stabilise her heartbeat and made a full recovery.
Police found a bag of the poison in Singh’s handbag and coat, but she claimed the herbs were for a neck rash she suffered.
Jurors are still deliberating on a charge of administering poison in relation to a previous alleged attack on Cheema. Singh faces life in jail when she is sentenced.
Aconite, or wolfsbane, was supposedly used by witches in the Middle Ages to kill their enemies.It features in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Professor Snape uses it to stop Remus Lupin turning into a werewolf.
Like cyanide, it stops the heart and other internal organs from working, causing death by asphyxiation. Victims suffer severe vomiting, clammy skin, a tingling of the hands and feet and the sensation of ants crawling over the body.
Breathing becomes slower and slower, stopping within as little as half an hour. Victims lose the power to control their limbs but the mind remains clear throughout, making it a particularly cruel death.