Triple-killer father who strangled wife and infant children with a dressing gown cord while drunk jailed for life

3 July 2023, 16:38 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 17:51

Saju Chelavalel has been jailed for life after killing his wife and two children.
Saju Chelavalel has been jailed for life after killing his wife and two children. Picture: Alamy/Family handout/Northamptonshire police

By Jenny Medlicott

A man who killed his wife and two infant children last year has been sentenced to life in prison.

Saju Chelavalel, 52, has been jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 40 years after killing his wife, 35, and two children, aged four and six.

Sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on Monday, Chelavalel previously admitted to killing his wife Anju Asok, who was a local nurse, and his sons Janvi, 4, and Jeeva, 6.

Chelavalel, originally from Kerala in India, had more than four hours “to reflect on whether to kill his children”, the court heard during his trial.

On 15 December in his Kettering, Northants home last year, the 52-year-old strangled his two children with a dressing gown cord in the early hours of the morning while drunk.

Just hours prior on the evening of 14 December, he strangled his wife around 10pm, as he believed she was having an affair and claimed to have lost control while drunk.

Prosecutor James Newton-Price KC told courts that an audio recording also captured the sound of a blender being used to make a “toxic” mixture of chocolate and pills to send his children to sleep.

The audio recording was made, according to defence KC George Carter-Stephenson, because it was “simply left on” from a moment when the children were heard singing.

Chelavalel was arrested in his Kettering home after police received a 999 call at 11:12am on the morning of December 15.

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Saju Chelavalel killed his two children, Jeeva Saju, 6, and Janvi Saju, 4.
Saju Chelavalel killed his two children, Jeeva Saju, 6, and Janvi Saju, 4. Picture: Northamptonshire Police
Anju Asok, 35, was a local nurse.
Anju Asok, 35, was a local nurse. Picture: Family photo

Police were forced to break into his flat, where they found the defendant holding a knife up to his throat.

Mr Newton-Price told the court Chelavalel had said something to the effect of “I am going to kill myself” before urging police to shoot him at the scene.

He was then tasered and handcuffed before police found the body of his wife in a bedroom, as well as his two children next to each other on a double bed of a different bedroom.

Police also found a letter at the scene with written instructions as to how Chelavalel wished the funeral of his and his family to be carried out.

He also accused his wife of having an affair in the letter, although no evidence was ever found in support of this.

The defendant said he could not remember killing his children and that he lost control with his wife after she allegedly his mother.

Life sentence for man who committed triple murder ten days before Christmas

Saju Chelavalel has been jailed for life.
Saju Chelavalel has been jailed for life. Picture: PA

In mitigation, defence KC George Carter-Stephenson said of his client: “Although there is no evidence of it, it is something that he had believed.

"That belief was obviously wrong. But he continues to hold that view."

He went on: “Whatever sentence the court imposes on him today he has to live with the knowledge of what he did on that particular night.”

Sentencing the 52-year-old, Mr Justice Pepperall labelled his actions brutal and “extraordinarily selfish” as the children would have been “terrified and deeply traumatised” hearing the murder of their mother.

He added that his children could have been brought up by other family, but instead: “Fuelled by alcohol, wallowing in self pity, engulfed in your resentment at you wife's perceived infidelity, you instead chose to snuff out their young and precious lives."

Inspector Simon Barnes said outside Northampton Crown Court: “As an adult, detective and father, I cannot comprehend how Saju Chelavalel could do this and don't think I ever will.

"There is no amount of time behind bars that will ever be enough for what he did. His primary role as a husband and a father was to protect his family from harm."

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