Dominic Raab loses appeal to stop killer grandmother, 85, being freed

Killer grandmother, 85, who arranged for her daughter-in-law, 27, to be lured to India and murdered in honour killing is set to be freed from jail despite Dominic Raab bid to keep her caged

  • Bachan Kaur Athwal, 85, arranged the murder of her daughter-in-law Surjit, 27
  • Surjit was never seen again after visiting India for a wedding in December 1998
  • Last month, The Parole Board agreed to free Athwal who is suffering dementia 
  • Justice Secretary Dominic Raab appealed against their decision but was refused 

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s attempt to stop a murderous pensioner who organised the honour killing of her daughter-in-law from being freed has been refused by The Parole Board.

Bachan Kaur Athwal, 85, arranged for her son’s wife Surjit, 27, to be lured to India and murdered in 1998.

Athwal was one of the oldest people in the country to be jailed for murder when she was convicted in 2007 at age 70.

Now in frail health and suffering from dementia, Athwal was told last month she could be released on licence by The Parole Board – a decision which was robustly challenged by Justice Secretary Mr Raab.

Mr Raab argued the panel’s decision ‘placed inappropriate weight on health factors and failed to consider appropriately risk related evidence’.

Brutal Bachan Kaur Athwal, then 70, was one of the oldest people in the country to be jailed for murder when she was convicted in 2007

Raab contested that the panel ‘gave disproportionate weight’ to protective factors around Athwal’s age and health.

He also argued it failed ‘to consider the non-disclosure of information about victims’.

Athwal and son Sukhdave Athwal, then aged 43, were sentenced to life after being found guilty of the honour killing of Surjit Athwal, 27.

Surjit disappeared after travelling with her mother-in-law from the UK to India for a family wedding in December 1998.

The young bride – who was forcibly wed to Sukhdave at 16 – was subsequently murdered but her body has never been found.

Athwal and family treated Surjit like a slave and plotted to kill her over fears she was too rebellious and tarnishing the family name.

Mum-of-two Surjit lived with the family in Hayes, West London and is said to have suffered abuse in the home.

Bachan, now 85 and son Sukhdave Athwal were sentenced to life after being found guilty of the honour killing of Surjit Athwal, 27

Raab argued that Athwal still poses a risk to society.

In May this year, she slapped her daughter during a prison visit and assaulted a member of prison staff and another inmate on two separate occasions.

In Athwal’s appeal, the Prison Offender Manager gave evidence that before the onset of dementia she had shown no instances of aggression.

The assaults were described as ‘low level’ because nobody was injured.

Medical tests suggested elderly Athwal ‘would be difficult to manage in exactly the same way as any other person suffering from dementia and no more’.

The Parole Board refused the justice secretary’s demand for a reconsideration and Athwal is still set to be released.

Mail Online has contacted the Ministry of Justice for comment.

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