Gurpreet Singh was convicted of strangling his wife Sarbjit Kaur at their house in Rookery Lane, Penn, after a retrial at Birmingham Crown Court.
The 45-year-old has now been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 16 years and 107 days, which was reduced from 19 years due to time he has already spent on remand in custody.
Jurors heard how Singh staged a fake burglary to cover up his actions after killing his wife within a 53-minute period on the morning of February 16, 2018. He murdered Mrs Kaur just after dropping his children off at school and before leaving for work.
CCTV had captured the movements outside of the property and captured a mysterious figure, believed to be a woman, entering the home at 8.15am and leaving at 9.07am.
She is believed to have been Singh's accomplice in Mrs Kaur's murder, but she has not been identified due to her disappearing from CCTV images.
CCTV stills of mystery woman:
Singh told police he had found his wife dead in her workroom after returning home that afternoon with his children from school, with the defendant calling the emergency services at 4.04pm.
Two WhatsApp calls were then made by Singh to his brother followed by a second call to the emergency services.
Emergency services discovered Mrs Kaur lying on the floor, dressed in the clothes she wore around the house, with "some form of chilli powder" on her face and body as well as on the floor around her.
Sentencing Singh at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Simon Drew said: "You've been convicted of the murder of your own wife Sarbjit Kaur. She died as a result of a pre-meditated and joint attack on her by you and the unidentified woman who came to your house on February 16.
"Although it's not possible to determine who was responsible for doing what, I'm quite satisfied you - as the larger and stronger of the two - took the lead.
"It was a surprise attack on Sarbjit Kaur. Chilli powder was used to incapacitate her. She was strangled and that would not have caused death immediately, she struggled and injured you as she did so.
"You tried to cover up what you did and ransacked the house to give the impression she died at the hands of a burglar, or burglaries, who she surprised.
"You pretended to undertake a normal day and collected your children to ensure they were with you when you pretended to find Sarbjit dead. As a result, they saw Sarbjit lying dead on the workshop floor.
"You pretended to be overcome by grief but that was a sham.
"You have persistently denied being responsible and falsely accused your former brother-in-law of being behind Sarbjit Kaur's death."
See a video appeal by the police during the investigation back in April 2018:
A police investigation was launched in the aftermath of the murder with the alleged burglary being dismissed after the crime scene was analysed by specialists, with one red flag being Mrs Kaur's Mercedes still being on the driveway, despite the keys being inside the home, with burglars, generally, going after vehicles rather than items in the home, jurors heard.
Coverage of the case:
Gurpreet Singh claimed he was "no murderer" and he had loved his wife and "she loved me" – and insisted his wife was still alive when he left for work in the morning.
The defendant also insisted he did not use chilli powder to incapacitate his wife and did not kill his wife – and he denied hiring the mysterious person to be his accomplice, or that she was his mistress.
Jurors in a previous trial, held at Birmingham Crown Court in 2019, were dismissed after members were unable to come to a verdict on the murder charge following days of deliberation.
Singh 'showed signs of shock and horror'
Reacting to the conviction, West Midland Police said: "We were called to Rookery Lane, Wolverhampton, on Friday 16 February 2018 by Singh who told officers he’d found his 38-year-old wife unconscious in their home.
"Sarbjit had been assaulted and had been dead for some time. A post mortem revealed she died of asphyxiation. The house initially looked as if it had been burgled and Singh was showing signs of shock and horror at what had taken place.
"A murder investigation was immediately launched, detectives believed they were looking for a burglar or burglars who had carried out this atrocious crime.
"Fear within the local community was high with many concerned there may be a gang at large who were breaking into homes and capable of killing anyone that got in their way.
"It quickly became clear to officers that the burglary was in fact staged after a detailed forensic examination highlighted it was no ordinary burglary scene. Our specialist and experienced forensics team, who examine many burglary scenes, were adamant it was no burglary - but an attempt to create an illusion of a messy search.
"Singh was therefore interviewed as a potential suspect. He gave a plausible account of events that morning saying he’d been alone with his wife for about an hour after dropping his children off at school before going to work.
"Checks carried out by police confirmed his account of his whereabouts and showed he’d made calls while at work during the day to his wife which she didn’t answer. Singh was then released on police bail.
"Detectives carried out an extensive CCTV trawl during the investigation. Singh’s own CCTV was disabled, however CCTV from a neighbouring house covered his drive which was accessed via electronic gates.
"The CCTV showed Singh take his children to school and return as he’d described. However, shockingly it also revealed an unknown person wearing a parka coat with the hood up approach the house and be let in at around 8.15am. Singh is then seen at around 9am opening the boot of his car, going back into his house and then returning to his car and driving off to work.
Crucial turning point
"Four minutes later, a person is shown to move away from the house and after a short gap the person in the parka coat is seen walking away from the house. Extensive enquires were made to trace this person but to date they have not being identified.
"This became a crucial turning point in the investigation as Singh never mentioned this visitor. He’d told detectives when asked that it had just been him and his wife at home.
"Other factors, such as the electronic gates, which could only be opened with a key fob or code for the keypad, the burglary element, where many items of high value had been ignored, the fact there was no evidence of forced entry into the house, began to add further doubt to Singh’s account."
Superintendent Chris Mallett, the senior investigating officer, added: “While the motivation of Sarbjit’s murder is unclear, Singh is clearly a callous and calculating man with complete disregard for human life. He’s shown no remorse for his actions and continued to deny his involvement, despite the weight of evidence against him.
“Shockingly Singh went about his daily business and allowed his own children to enter their home and find their stepmother dead on the floor.
“The distress this caused those poor children, who’d already lost their mother, is sickening.
Family: 'The grief leaves us dumbfounded'
“Sarbjt’s family have shown great courage and dignity throughout this retrial and I hope today’s guilty verdict offers them some comfort.
“This has been a complex investigation and Singh’s motive will remain a mystery. We’re still keen to hear who his accomplice is and I’d ask anyone with any information to do the right thing and tell us what they know."
Sarbjit’s niece, Jasmeen on behalf of her family, said: “We have been deeply disturbed by the death of Sarbjit. No one can understand what could have led to her murder.
“The grief leaves us dumbfounded. Losing someone is always very sad and painful, but losing a loved one in these circumstances is traumatic.
“Sarbjt’s death was so sudden, unanticipated and violent, it has shaken the whole family’s sense of safety, control and trust in the world around them."