Devendra Singh jailed for murder of wife Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith Charlotte Smith suffered severe head injuries and broken bones in the attack

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A man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife by repeatedly hitting her on the head with an ornamental wooden elephant.

Devendra Singh, 33, will serve a minimum of 16 years for killing Charlotte Smith, 41, during an argument at their home in Ladderedge, Leek in Staffordshire in September.

She died from serious head injuries.

A pathologist said Singh struck his wife with force "off-the-scale in its ferocity".

Singh had admitted the manslaughter of his wife, known as Charlie, but denied murder. He was convicted on Monday.

The court heard Singh struck Ms Smith numerous times across her head and body with the 4lb (2kg) ornament on 3 September after hearing she wanted to end their two-year marriage.

Prosecutors said Singh used Ms Smith's mobile phone to send text messages so people would think she was still alive. He left their home, stole money from her account and travelled to London with his passport where he stayed for a number of days.

His wife's body was found at the couple's house by her father on 6 September.

Singh handed himself in at Leek Police Station later that day.

'Completely devastated'

Ms Smith's parents, Irene Cork and Peter Smith, released a statement after sentencing, saying no matter how long Singh was jailed for, "nothing will compensate for our loss".

Devendra Singh Devendra Singh disappeared to London for three days after the murder

It said: "Some years from now he will leave prison and be free to join his family and continue with his life. For Charlie there is nothing, she has been tragically denied her future life.

"We are completely devastated and there are no words to describe the pain and emptiness we feel and how much we love and miss her. Losing Charlie has been a profound and indescribable loss for us which will continue to affect us for the rest of our lives."

Sara Cameron, of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said Ms Smith died in the "most brutal and cruellest act of domestic violence".

She added: "Instead of calling the emergency services and seeking medical assistance for his wife, he tried to clean the crime scene and fled to London."

Indian national Singh may be deported to his home country after serving his jail sentence, at the discretion of the Home Office.

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