Multiple persons

January, 2011

Sikh man carried out 'honour attack' on priest and witness of sister's wedding, court hears.

A Sikh man acting with a "warped sense of honour" carried out an attack on a female witness and the priest who conducted the wedding ceremony of his sister after finding out she had married a man of a different faith, a court has heard.

By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 15 May 2009

Sandip Singh Rooprai, 20, allegedly poured petrol through the letter box of the Bristol home of the priest and set it alight, then firebombed the car and house in Swindon of the witness at the marriage.

Jurors were told he believed his family had been dishonoured in the Sikh community after his 22 year-old sister, Pardip, married Hindu Gaurav Kapoor, 29, without their permission.

The court heard that they had married hurriedly at a Hindu temple because she feared her parents were about to take her to India for an arranged marriage.

Ian Lawrie, prosecuting, said: "A daughter had gone against the wishes of her father and married somebody they deemed to be unsuitable because he had a different faith.

"Sandip Rooprai was not prepared to let the matter rest. He wanted to address the distress and shame brought upon his family because of this marital alliance.

"He thought he should do something about it. We do not know exactly what was going through his head.

"Was it prompted by some warped sense of honour as a son, youthful bravado or perhaps by revenge fuelled by anger and the distress caused to his parents?

"The properties they attacked were not random. They were chosen because they had a connection to the secret marriage."

Kamlesh Vyas conducted the secret wedding

The jury heard that Mr Rooprai and his friends Mukham Singh Dogra, 18, and Jasdev Dogra, 19, travelled 40 miles from their home in Swindon to the priest's house in Bristol.

Mr Rooprai and Mukham Dogra poured petrol through the letter box, set it alight and fled, but it failed to take hold, Mr Lawrie said.

The witness at the wedding was Alpona Begum Rahim, a Muslim woman who the family believed had pressured Pardip into getting married.

Mr Rooprai firebombed a Ford Scorpio car they wrongly believed belonged to the father, the court heard.

Three days later the trio went to Miss Rahim's family home and threw a petrol bomb at the front window, Mr Lawrie said.

They allegedly returned two weeks later with a brick and another petrol bomb – having sought advice on how to make them on the internet.

This time the fire took hold. Miss Rahim and her mother took cover in an upstairs bedroom to avoid thick smoke until the fire brigade arrived and put out the blaze.

After the three men were arrested, police found a satellite navigation device which had been near to the Bristol address, along with a petrol can and funnels, in Jasdev Dogra's car.

A computer at the Dogra brothers' family home also contained a picture of newspaper cuttings referring to some of the firebomb attacks.

Police found that a computer had been used to do an internet search for 'how does one go about making a petrol bomb?', said Mr Lawrie.

Mrs Kapoor told the court she knew her relationship with a Hindu was likely to cause problems within her family.

She said: "My family has strong Sikh beliefs and Gaurav was a Hindu. I thought our relationship may cause some problems in the family.

"My family is well known in the Sikh community in Swindon and our mixed religions would be a factor in the community.

"My father was angry with the relationship and the main reason was that Gaurav was a Hindu."

Mr Rooprai and the Dogras, all from Swindon, each deny three charges of arson with intent to endanger life and two alternative charges of reckless arson.

All three defendants have admitted arson on the car and one charge of reckless arson at Miss Rahim's house.

The trial, at Winchester Crown Court, continues.

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