London, April 12: A Latvian man who snatched an Indian woman off the streets as she was walking to work in a desolate area of London, assaulted her sexually, murdered her and then hid her body under a rubbish heap last year, was given a life sentence today with a recommendation that he serve at least 30 years in prison.
Passing the sentence on Vadims Ruskuls, 25, at the Old Bailey for the murder of 30-year-old hotel worker Pardeep Kaur, Judge Richard Marks QC commented: "This was a truly shocking and wicked offence of the utmost gravity."
"What a dreadful way for Pardeep Kaur, a decent, hard-working young woman, to die," he added. The judge ordered that the Latvian, who had not shown "one iota of remorse", be deported once he had served his sentence.
The downside of free movement of people allowed by the European Union is that a significant number of hardened criminals and gangs have slipped into Britain over the years and have been involved in everything from fraud to sex trafficking to murder. Some have been travelling between their home countries and the UK with complete abandon.
The court was told that it was unclear when Ruskuls had first arrived in Britain from his home country where he had four previous convictions for burglary and criminal damage.
The judge also told the killer: "It is apparent from the state of undress in which her body was found that the motive of this attack must have been sexual." Pardeep's husband Rachpal Singh sat in court as the jury delivered its verdict.
Pardeep worked at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel in Harlington while her husband had a job at Fresh Foods in Hayes. They worked six days a week to send money to their five-year-old daughter who lives with her grandparents in India.
Rachpal said afterwards: "We hoped for a good life here with our daughter, but something terrible happened to us and now our dreams are shattered. The circumstances of Pardeep's death will always haunt me because Vadims Ruskuls has not given an explanation."
The judge referred to Rachpal when he said: "As her husband put it graphically in his victim impact statement, 'During this trial I have seen photos of her clothing in waste land. It has been six months since she was murdered but I have not forgotten her for even six seconds and I always think about what she must have gone through on that dark morning when she was killed.' "
On the morning of Monday October 17 last year, Ruskuls was caught on CCTV footage as he stalked his victim as she approached Harlington Bridge in west London. They disappeared from view for 25 minutes before his shadowy figure emerged dragging Pardeep's partly naked body on to waste ground, where she was hidden beneath branches and an old sleeping bag.
Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC had told jurors that Pardeep had scratched her assailant's face in a desperate attempt to get away but her screams were drowned out by the traffic. The ground where her body was dumped was a "bleak spot" used by rough sleepers, drunks and drug addicts, he said.
Pardeep's badly decomposed body was discovered almost a week later by a visiting Norwegian detective chief inspector, Kenneth Berg, who spotted a human foot sticking out.
Police initially suspected the husband because he lied saying he had seen her the morning she went missing when he had yet to return from a night shift. He had feared police would discover he was working without a permit. It was only after he came clean that the investigation "quickly moved on".
Ruskuls was caught after a local police constable, Richard Lewis, recognised the stooped figure in the CCTV footage as the man he had spoken to the day after Pardeep's disappearance.
The officer found the suspect walking barefoot with scratches to his left cheek and neck, the court heard.
Following his arrest for Pardeep's murder, Ruskuls's DNA was found on the victim's ankle, sock and the left cup of her bra with a probability of "one in a billion", jurors were told.
The defendant, who denied murder, refused to make any comment in police interviews and declined to give evidence in court.
Detective inspector Jamie Stevenson said: "This has been a truly shocking and horrendous case and Ruskuls has proved himself to be a violent and dangerous rapist and murderer. Pardeep was walking to work, as she did every day, when she suffered a horrific fate at the hands of Ruskuls, who sexually attacked and killed his defenceless victim before leaving her body in woodland. It is everybody's worst nightmare."