Prabhal Poonam Sharma family

The Indian community was shattered when wife Poonam Sharma and 6-year-old daughter Vanessa Sharma were brutally stabbed to death by Poonam’s husband PS on January 13.

Today, sentencing him, Supreme Court Judge, Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth sentenced him to 27 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 19 years.

The judge said the fact that because he had pleaded guilty early which avoided the families the painful ordeal they would have had to go through while sitting through the trial, had had saved 4 years on his long sentence.

He sentenced for the two murders – of his wife and daughter – 22 years each. But the judge allowed 17 years of the second sentence to run concurrently, adding only 5 years of the second term to make the total effective sentence of 27 years, with a non-parole period of 19 years.

“That makes a  total effective sentence of 27 years’ imprisonment. I fix a period of 19 years as the period you must serve before you become eligible for parole”, Justice Hollingworth told him.

“Had you not pleaded guilty, I would have sentenced you to a total effective sentence of 31 years, with a non-parole period of 23 years”, Justice Hollingworth added.

He has served 406 days in custody already and will be able to celebrate Christmas as a free man in 2040. His Diwali each year including 2040 will be behind bars.

In a drug induced psychosis, he attacked wife Poonam, his younger daughter Vanessa, both died while his elder daughter  who was 10, managed to run away and escape unhurt.

Police were told injured Poonam, after being stabbed, had run to neighbours pleading for help for his daughter Vanessa. But he followed and caught up with her.

Poonam died at the scene and Vanessa later died in hospital.

Suffering from the drugged state of minds, he had also injured himself but survived.

It is extremely sad for the surviving daughter who lost her entirely family, in a flash, and was witness to such brutal killing of her own mother and younger sister.

BT understands, his only surviving daughter who managed to run away, is in foster care. The judge, in order to protect her privacy, did not go into the details of the impact of her father’s actions have had on her but said this of her bravery:

“… I would like to acknowledge how very brave your older daughter was when these terrifying events were occurring.  On several occasions, she tried to check on and protect her mother, who was visibly bleeding and screaming for help.  She was also worried for her little sister’s safety.  She was in danger from you herself on several occasions.  When she got to the safety of a neighbour’s house, she spoke to a 000 call-taker, and explained to them what was happening.  There is nothing more she could have done to help her mother or little sister.”

Poonam’s ageing parents from the city of Pathankot, Punjab had been granted quick visa attend their daughter’s funeral in January 2022. 

Also read: Shimmy Mob- Belly Dancers against Domestic Violence

The inconsolable ageing couple were suddenly struck with the worst grief in Hindu culture – seeing one’s progeny dying and dying so young meeting a violent end to their lives, at the hand of (allegedly) someone who has the sole responsibility to protect them.

Justice Hollingworth described their pain as below:

“Having previously lost two of their three children, your wife was her parents’ only surviving child.  Your parents-in-law have described their daughter as the light of their lives, and their granddaughters as their sunshine and reason for smiling.  After qualifying as a dentist, their daughter worked with them in their dental practice before moving to Australia.  She was a lovely, bubbly person, and her singing and dancing will always stay in their minds”.  

“Your parents-in-law are shattered and distressed.  They have sleepless nights and nightmares.  They feel that life is meaningless.  Your actions have caused mental trauma and aggravated pre-existing medical problems.  They have also found it hard to resume their work.  Social gatherings and festivals pass them by, leaving them with dread, because they will not be joined by their daughter and granddaughter.”

The judge said there was nothing the court could say or do that would bring Poonam Sharma and her daughter back or heal the immense grief and pain caused by his actions. Justice Hollingworth said the sentence imposed is not a reflection of the value of his wife’s and his daughter’s lives.

The judge also said prior to this offending, there had been no family violence, although the husband has been unfaithful to the wife when he had short relationships with two women, which were not related.

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