The jury returned unanimous verdicts against the three defendants yesterday (2 December) at the Old Bailey.
Today (Friday, 3 December) they were sentenced as follows:
Harpreet Singh Aulakh, aged 32, of no fixed abode – life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 28 years
Sher Singh, aged 19, of Wren Avenue, Southall – life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 22 years.
Jaswant Singh Dhillon, aged 30, of High Road, Ilford – life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 22 years.
The Jury were unable to reach a decision on the involvement of Harpreet Singh, aged 20, of Elmwood Road, Slough and a re-trial will be held in due course.
DCI Howard Groves of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command said: "Today Geeta’s family and friends have finally seen justice served. Geeta was a much loved woman whose only ‘crime’ in the eyes of those convicted, and in particular her husband, was her decision to divorce him in order to make a better life for her children and herself, without his controlling and domineering influence. For that she paid the ultimate price with her life.
"I would like to thank the witnesses who came forward and gave evidence in this trial, as their willingness to do so demonstrates that so-called "honour killings" within our communities are not acceptable and that offenders will be brought to justice.
"I would also take this opportunity to thank the Shinh family for their support and the dignified manner in which they have conducted themselves throughout this terrible ordeal.
"Finally, I would like to thank my staff for their professionalism and the meticulous manner in which they gathered the damming evidence which convicted these evil individuals."
The court heard that police were called at approximately 19:00hrs on 16 November 2009 to reports of a woman seriously injured in Braund Avenue, at the junction of Verulam Road, Greenford.
On arrival police discovered a woman in the street, suffering from a head injury and a severed right hand.
Geeta Aulakh, 28, of Greenford was taken by ambulance to Charing CrossHospital where she was pronounced dead at 23:19hrs.
A post-mortem gave cause of death as severe head injury caused by a heavy chopping instrument such as a machete. It was also concluded that the injury to her hand was most likely as a result of Geeta trying to defend herself during the attack.
Enquiries quickly established that Geeta had left work in Southall, where she was a receptionist at Sunrise Radio, and caught the number 105 bus at approximately 18.25hrs. She was on her way to pick up her children, two boys aged seven and eight, from the childminder’s house and was walking towards the address when she was attacked.
Prior to the assault, witnesses described seeing two Asian men hanging around in the vicinity and at times they appeared to be pacing up and down the street.
Officers spoke to Geeta’s family and friends who indicated that she had been involved in a very unhappy marriage since 2001 and had recently started divorce proceedings.
Although she was looking forward to a new life with her children, Geeta had confided in colleagues that she was being harassed by her husband, although she did not wish to make any formal complaint to police.
Harpreet Aulakh was arrested on 17 November on suspicion of murder and later released on bail pending further enquiries. He claimed to be in love with his wife and had been hopeful that they were about to get back together, he also provided an alibi stating that he was in The Old Elm Tree pub in Hounslow and could be seen on the cctv.
Later, on the same day, Jaswant Singh Dhillon walked into Southall police station and claimed to have information regarding Geeta’s death, he gave detectives the name of Sher Singh as being involved. He also told the officers where the murder weapon and the clothes worn by the killer could be found.
A jacket and a machete were subsequently recovered from the GrandUnionCanal in Slough. A pair of trainers was retrieved from the side of the M4 near the junction to the M25.
Jaswant Dhillon claimed that he was collected by an associate, Sher Singh, who he knew through other friends, and was told that they had to go and meet someone in Greenford. The car was driven by a man he said he didn’t know.
Once in Greenford, Dhillon claimed he stayed in the car with the driver and Sher Singh got out. After a short period of time Singh came running back with a knife in his hand and said he had stabbed someone, they then drove off and disposed of the weapon and the clothing.
Sher Singh was arrested on 19 November and taken to a West London police station. His DNA was found to be on the jacket from the canal, which also contained DNA from the victim. He was subsequently charged with murder.
Officers were able to trace the murder weapon, a model imported from Brazil, back to a shop in Hounslow. Painstaking examination of the cctv from the premises showed Harpreet Aulakh buying the machete for £13.99 on 7 November 2009 – nine days before the murder took place.
Harpreet Aulakh was re-arrested in December 2009 and charged with the murder of his wife.
Both he and Sher Singh had claimed that they did not know each other, but officers uncovered evidence of them dancing at the wedding of Aulakh’s brother, and Aulakh’s brother had met Singh at the airport when he arrived in the UK to study in July 2009.
Further evidence also emerged that Aulakh had been at the house where Sher Singh was living with a group of other people a couple of weeks before the murder. When the group were discussing money, Aulakh offered to pay somebody £5,000 to carry out a murder and then pretended he was joking.
Jaswant Dhillon was arrested on 13 August 2010. Despite claims that he barely knew Harpreet Aulakh and had innocently been taken along to the murder, phone evidence shows they were in contact before the attack and on the day itself. He was later charged with murder.
The men were remanded in custody until trial, which began on Monday, 18 October.