Verdict can't change 'ruined' life
EVEN going to the supermarket tormented Shirley Singh for years.
She could not stand to see the aisles filled with the flavoured milk, soft-drinks, chips and biscuits her beloved children, Neelma, 24, Kunal, 18, and Sidhi, 12, had once devoured.
She still has Kunal's last half-finished can of coke which she kisses "every now and then".
The flavoured milk she bought Sidhi before going on a business trip to Fiji nine years ago remains in the family home.
But when people ask the Brisbane mother how she could still live in the home where three of her four children were murdered, she is firm.
"How can I turn my back to my children after what has happened to them?" she said in a victim impact statement read to the Brisbane Supreme Court this week.
"What will they think of me, their tiger, I am not a coward."
Neelma's former boyfriend Massimo "Max" Sica was this week sentenced to 45 years in jail.
He will not be eligible for parole until age 73 when he has served 35 years behind bars, the longest jail sentence handed down in Queensland history.
Sica has already served 1299 days in pre-sentence custody.
Justice John Byrne, in handing down the sentence, labelled the deaths of Neelma, Kunal and Sidhi as "brutal, horrific crimes in the worst categories of murder".
He said Neelma was expecting Sica the night he killed her, but her siblings were probably asleep.
"Enraged by jealously, most likely you strangled Neelma with both hands, using the sustained pressure for about a minute, intending to kill," he said.
"To ensure Kunal and Sidhi would not tell you had murdered Neelma, you murdered them too.
"You struck their heads with the tines of a garden fork inflicting multiple blows with severe force.
"Neelma was probably dead when you struck and disfigured her face with the garden fork.
"You put your victims into the spa bath in the master bedroom ensuite.
"Your savage attack on Kunal had rendered him unconscious.
"He drowned after you filled the bath with water and covered the three bodies with bedding."
Mrs Singh can still remember Kunal and Neelma's laughter ringing in her ears as they farewelled her at Brisbane Airport before their trip to Fiji.
"I dropped my hand luggage on the escalator and they were laughing and drawing attention," she said.
"They would look and find any excuse to laugh.
"And I loved acting dumb just to make them laugh.
"The children I had last seen laughing I was taken to identify."
Mrs Singh only recognised one of the three children she was forced to identify because they had been damaged so badly.
Seeing the blood spatters on the walls of their family home that had shared much love and laughter made her mind run.
"If it was because of drowning, house fire, a road accident, drug overdose, there would have been a reason but what happened to them had no reason at all," she said
"They never hurt anyone, harmed anyone or annoyed anyone.
"Neelma and Kunal had seen the world a bit but my baby Sidhi was defenceless.
"While sleeping, with her blood on the floor and the wall, did she try to get up and defend herself?
"That vision is crystal clear in my eyes today and will always be there.
"What I saw of my children ... I pray to god that no other mother will see what I saw.
"How can a cruel, inhumane, cold-blooded monster, evil spirit, maggot can do such a thing?"
Mrs Singh spoke about her bedroom which had blood stains on the floor and on the wall behind the king size bed where she would watch TV with her children.
She said the ensuite spa where she would have fun, drink wine and listen to music with Neelma and Sidhi was "turned into a graveyard of my children".
"I stopped eating meat after how I saw them," she said.
"I gave up their favourite foods ... KFC chicken burger, Sizzler which was Sid's favourite.
"I light a candle every night in the spa so they're not in the dark, especially for Sid who always slept with the lights on.
"I set a shrine downstairs and I lit a candle which has been burning exactly like me for nine years and will never stop.
"I cook for them, change, wash and iron their clothes.
"I still celebrate their birthdays.
"After this horrific incident I was so shattered I didn't know what to do or how to deal with my life.
"I stopped applying make-up, I didn't have my hair done for more than three years.
"I haven't been to any parties or weddings for the past nine years.
"I've isolated myself from the Indian community as they were asking me many questions because of what they saw and heard in the media."
Mrs Sica said she was prepared for their "dirty laundry" to be aired but not to be scrutinised to the extent it had.
Justice Byrne said Sica had shown no remorse since the killings and had "heaped humiliation upon agony" on the Singh family in trying to plead his innocence.
"You had insinuated that Mr Singh may have instigated the killings which is despicable," he said.
Justice Byrne said Sica was "manipulative and deceitful" in the way he behaved after the killings, feigning distress.
"You set about covering your tracks, you cleaned up to some extent using bleach," he said.
"The deception you practised included using your own children, taking them to the house on the Tuesday afternoon when you pretended to discover the bodies.
"You feigned distress in making triple 000 calls and later that Tuesday during an interview with police.
"Much the same thing happened during a walk through of the house on Anzac Day, you presented yourself as overwhelmed by grief and you lied often."
The court heard on Thursday about Sica's history of arson - setting fire to schools, businesses and police stations - something kept from the Singh family to ensure the jury could make an unprejudiced decision.
Sica had also been involved in haphazard shooting at a school principal's office, a car and an occupied house.
Police found Sica and his mates with a rifle and planned to run ballistic tests to see if it was linked to shooting incident around Brisbane.
After some discussion, Sica and his mates broke into the police station to steal the gun back but could not get into the gun safe.
They splashed petrol around the station to burn it down instead.
They destroyed the police station but, ironically, the gun safe survived.
That was part of a "rampage of damage" over many months causing more than $350,000 damage and earning Sica a nine-month jail sentence.
He had also set Molotov cocktails to scare people. He was on parole when he killed the Singh siblings.
Sica's wife Shiv has issued a statement indicating her husband's plan to immediately appeal the murder convictions.
"I have spoken to Max and, while stunned by the decision, he maintains his absolute innocence and will continue to defend these charges at appeal," she said.
"Max remains in high spirits and has encouraged me to keep my eyes on the end goal, which is the day all will know the truth."
Mrs Singh said, outside court, she was happy he would not see sunshine and would be behind bars for so many years.
But she said the verdict and sentence did not change her ruined life.
Mrs Singh ended up in a mental health ward at the hospital several times, noting once after she saw Sica talking on national television about how he found the Singh siblings and described how they died.
"I was so frustrated and angry and paranoid I lost it," she said in her statement read in court.
"I started drinking two bottles of red wine a day to make myself numb but it never worked so I took (sleeping drug) Stilnox as well.
"Drunk and after taking stilnox, I would walk to the cemetery at 2-3am searching for them.
"I once passed out in the local park, Sid's favourite place, when I was looking for her."
Mrs Singh became so worked up over a thoughtless comment over baby news that she took Stilnox, filled the spa with water and tried to drown herself.
"I tried to kill myself in the place where my children were killed," she said.
Eldest daughter and only surviving sibling Sonia Pathik also submitted a moving account about being outcast from her family and feeling she had failed to protect the siblings she had mothered.
She was 26 when she got a knock on the door asking for descriptions of Neelma, Kunal and Sidhi.
"My parents were angry on me for not being there protecting them when I was supposed to," she said.
"I initially felt like I was the suspect; this made me disconnected from my own self and I started blaming myself for what had happened.
"I hated myself and felt I was unworthy of love and affection.
"I am the eldest and I am the protector.
"The walk through the house after it was released ... has become a constant nightmare that I have had to live with.
"The blood spatters of my baby sister, my angelic Sidhi, on the walls of the room make me feel really sick even writing about it.
"Saying goodbye to three coffin boxes sitting right in front of me but having no idea how to react was something I constantly have thought about it.
"I know what it's like to be numb, lifeless, confused, no feelings, no emotions.
"I want to cry but no tears will fall.
"I want to be angry but my mind and body were not permitting me to be that way.
"Things would have been different if they had have been here today with us.
"My mind races back and always thinks and says that if I would have been there then this would not have happened.
"But seeing the state of the house when released and after reading the post mortem report, if I was present then I would have not been writing this right now."
Ms Pathik became estranged from her family and the Indian community when she moved away with her husband, called a selfish coward.
"They chose not to speak to me," she said.
"I became a forgotten child."
Ms Pathik had multiple miscarriages before she finally had two children who look shockingly like her siblings did growing up - both a blessing and traumatising.
"I cry from time to time but always celebrate their birthday every year by cutting a cake and placing sweet offerings on their shrine at home," she said.
"We always talk about how it would have been if we all would have been together.
"Neelma and Kunal and their partners and kids and Sidhi growing up to be a young and beautiful woman.
"This person is a cold-blooded murderer, a cruel and sadistic animal that has caused enough pain, grief and suffering."
Father Vijay said his family had been shattered by the tragedy and their hearts would never heal.
"Losing a loved one is a great pain to bear, let alone losing three," he said.
"It feels like a dream as well as a nightmare.
"Because of this man's action we've each been given a life time sentence of loss and sadness"
A MOTHER'S MEMORIES
Dignified, courageous, ambitious, caring, loving.
Studied business management to her father.
Wanted a good job so I wouldn't have to work.
Always stood by me, protected me when things weren't good.
She would tell me I'm the best mother in the world and she would only leave her children with me to baby-sit.
I miss the times she would open a bottle of wine, put on the music and dance funny to cheer me up.
She was a sister and a friend as well as a daughter
She mothered Kunal and Sidhi
Sidhi was like a living doll for her - she would bath, her, feed her and carry her around
Special boy born exactly nine months after we had an eight-day prayer session for Lord Shiva, a powerful god in Hinduism.
Everyone regarded him as a gift from Lord Shiva to me.
Always gentle, kind and caring and he would listen to me every time.
Huge sense of humour, always making everyone laugh and a bit cheeky in a good way.
Ambitious, creative, wanted to be a designer. But decided to do a business major first so he could help his father with the latest technology.
He would rub his chin on my cheeks and say you're the best mum in the whole wide world.
Said "I will always look after you and marry someone like you".
His heartbroken girlfriend would visit with a bunch of flowers, lock herself in his room and cry for hours after his death.
Losing Sidhi is like being stabbed and someone pulling my heart out and leaving me lifeless.
She always clung to me, asked for hugs and slept with me.
I remember saying to her, can you leave me alone for a while, especially when I was busy.
And I regret saying that because she has left me alone for good.
One morning at 5am I woke to hear her in the kitchen to make a whole loaf of sandwiches to take for her friends because they were going on an excursion that day.
Sidhi also took 18 packets of chips and drinks for everyone.
She always wanted to be a singer. She said once she released a disc I wouldn't have to work and I'd be treated like a queen.
She used to make me listen to her sign songs from the movie Titanic.