Melbourne 19 August: In June 2018, BT brought you a story of tragic end to a love-triangle of Sam Abraham, Sofia Sam (Sam’s wife) and Arun Kamalsanan, Sofia’s lover, who himself was married and had a son. His wife and son were in India at the time.
Prosecution case was that Arun and Sofia conspired to poison and kill Sam so that they could be together. On June 21, 2018, the
Victorian Supreme Court jailed Arun Kamalasanan, the lover and the “deemed architect” of the poison plot, for 27 years and his love of life – the wife of Sam Abraham, Sofia Sam for 22 years.
Sofia Sam, lived with her husband Sam Abraham and their six years old son lived at a unit in Epping in Victoria.
But she was in love with Arun Kamalasanan, who was also married. The trio had known each other from university days but the relationship between the Sofia and Arun was much deeper than had been publicly acknowledged.
Sofia Sam came to Australia with her son on 2 December 2012 and her husband Sam Abraham joined her in May 2013.
Her lover Arun Kamalasanan, arrived in Australia in July 2013. Sofia and Arun had a continuing relationship over the next two years, including the opening of a joint bank account in January 2014 in relation to which Sofia Sam, used Arun’s address. Between January 2014 and July 2015, Sofia sent funds to India via Western Union, again using that address.
Police found a computer hard drive found in Arun’s flat which contained photographs of Arun and Sofia. Police also found an electronic diary which contained an entry, dated two days after Arun’s arrival in Australia, recording that he had met ‘his love’ for the first time in seven months.
Sam Abraham died of Cyanide poisoning on 14 October 2015. According to police, Sofia and Arun were being careful to be not seen together, but the transfer of Sam’s Toyota car to Arun in March 2016 triggered undercover police operation on him between March and August 2016.
As it turned out, Arun confessed to covert operatives of poisoning Sam. He said he had snuck into the garage as Sofia Sam was returning home in her car that night, gained entry into the house through a window, proceeded to drug the entire family by adding sleeping pills to the avocado shake that Sofia Sam had prepared and given Sam Abraham the cyanide in some orange juice, by holding him and making him drink it as he was asleep.
He also confessed he had brought Cyanide from India on one of his trips and had been planning the murder for three years.
After his confessions to the covert operatives, he was interviewed the same day. But in the interview, he denied any involvement in the murder. The police chose to not put the evidence from the covert operatives to him in that interview.
Like Arun, when interviewed, Sofia also denied any involvement in her husband’s murder.
She said she had been home on the night of his death, having left the house only briefly to visit her sister nearby and go to the supermarket. She said Sam Abraham had told her that he did not want to eat dinner as he was not feeling well. She then made an avocado shake and orange juice for him. The family drank the avocado shake and she saw her husband drink the orange juice, have some snacks and take Panadol. She said she then made another cup of orange juice and left it in the kitchen for her husband which was perhaps mixed with Cyanide and given to Sam to murder him.
Although authorities had known that the cause of Sam’s death was cyanide poisoning, the death was regarded by police as suspicious, in order to crack the case, cause of death was kept confidential even from members of the immediate family, including Sofia Sam.
Despite Sofia’s denials, the judge was satisfied that Sofia was involved in the murder of her husband.
“It is not possible to say what precise role you played, but I am satisfied that your husband could not have been murdered without your knowledge and acquiescence and that it is likely that the jury proceeded to find you guilty on that basis”, the judge added.
Sentencing Arun Kamalsanan the judge said, “You have no prior convictions and I regard your prospects of rehabilitation as at least reasonable, even in the absence of you showing any remorse for what you have done.”
Commenting on Sofia’s conduct, the judge said “it cannot be said that you are remorseful…” but regarded her chances of rehabilitation as good.
“This is a very serious example of the crime of murder… I am satisfied that the poison was chosen as your ‘weapon’ in an attempt to avoid detection”, the judge added.
The judge sentenced Arun Kamalasanan, the chief architect of the poison plot, for 27 years with a non-parole period of 23 years and Sofia Sam for 22 years with a non-parole period of 18 years. They had been in pre-sentence detention for a period of 672 days and that will be taken into account when working out their parole period.
Both Sofia and Arun lodged appeals in the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria. The court heard their appeals on August 2 and delivered their judgement on August 16.
Giving Arun Kamalasanan a pleasant surprise, the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence from 27 years to 24 years and ordered a new non-parole period of 20 years.
Kamalasanan was the architect and driving force of the poison plot, but the Court of Appeal on Friday found his sentence to be disproportionate compared with Sam’s.
“The verdict exposed Sam’s role as a full and willing participant in this serious premeditated crime,” the appeal judges said.
“It was not open to (Justice Paul Coghlan) to distinguish between Kamalasanan and Sam to the extent that he did.”
Kamalasanan was re-sentenced to 24 years’ jail, with his non-parole period reduced from 23 to 20 years.
But the court threw out bids by Kamalasanan and Sam to appeal their convictions.
Sofia Sam had claimed the jury’s guilty verdict was unsafe and unsatisfactory, and that she should have been tried separately to Kamalasanan.
The appeal judges didn’t agree and said the overwhelming evidence from the trial meant it was unrealistic for the jury to return anything but a guilty verdict.
Kamalasanan’s arguments against his conviction, including claims of new evidence he said could help clear his name, were found to be “devoid of merit”.
Detectives spied on Kamalasanan and Sofia Sam for months and found a secret diary they shared.
Inside Ms Sam’s diary, which she gave to Ms Kamalasanan shortly after he arrived in Australia from India, she wrote: “We never know why we like someone more than others.” The day after, she wrote: “I feel to hug you and comfort you.”
On February 2, 2013, Ms Sam wrote: “I’m waiting for you.”
Six days later in either Hindi or Malay, she wrote: “I wish to sleep in your arms … I want to be yours but you are not mine.”
On February 17, she wrote, “Miss you a lot dear. Can you hold me tight” and “Hug me tight, hold me rude. I am here for you.”
On March 8, she wrote: “Why I am made with rock heart? Why I am so cruel? Why I am so cunning? I — you make me do bad things. Why you made me bad.”
On April 12, she wrote: “I feel proud to be yours. I just think, if you are with me, I can reach heights.”
On July 10, Ms Sam wrote: “I feel like running and coming close to you, but my heart is helpless.”
And on July 18, she wrote: “Planning is always needed in what we do” and then “an idea without a plan is no more than a dream.”
“She is the best match for me – but what to do? I am sure that one day she will be mine,” Kamalasanan wrote.
Sofia Sam is an Australian citizen and her immigration status – after she completes her sentence – will perhaps be of a non-citizen should the department choose to apply the character test. That, to ordinary people should mean – she will be able to remain in Australia indefinitely but if she leaves Australia, she will not be able to come back.
Arun on the other hand is not Australian citizen and thus will be subject to deportation the moment he steps out of prison. If his wish of having Sofia Sam for himself were to come true, Sofia will have to perhaps decide to leave Australia and join Arun in India.
Only time will tell. In the meantime one wonders – what a tragic end to this love-triangle of these educated Indians!