CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australian police on Thursday offered an A$1 million ($633,000) reward for information on the whereabouts of an Indian national suspected of murdering a woman on a tropical beach four years ago to have before he returned to his home country.
Queensland state police officers who speak Hindi and Punjabi are waiting at an office in Cairns to be contacted from India via WhatsApp or online where Rajwinder Singh, 38, can be found, Detective Inspector Sonia Smith said.
Singh was a nurse working in Innisfail, south of Cairns, when the body of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley was found on Wangetti Beach on Monday October 22, 2018.
She had gone to the beach north of Cairns the day before to walk her dog.
Singh flew from Cairns to Sydney on the day Cordingley’s body was found and left for India the following day, police said.
The reward is the largest in Queensland history and is unique in that it does not seek a lead that will solve a crime and lead to a successful prosecution. Instead, the money is offered for information leading only to finding and arresting a suspect.
Police Secretary Mark Ryan approved the reward and was confident people knew where to find Singh.
“We know people know that person, they know where that person is, and we’re asking those people to do the right thing,” Ryan said.
“Now there are a million reasons for a billion eyes around the world to help us bring justice to Toyah,” he added.
Deputy Police Commissioner Tracy Lindford said detectives believed Singh remained in India. She called on witnesses among India’s 1.4 billion people to come forward and “give some rest to the family who are missing Toyah.”
Three Queensland detectives were already in India working with Indian authorities on the investigation, Smith said.
The victim’s parents, Troy Cordingley and Vanessa Gardiner, released a video statement asking for public help in finding their killer.
“I can’t believe it’s a million dollars but Toyah deserves it. She deserves all of it,” Gardiner said.
The story goes on
The father said bringing the killer to justice “is the least she deserved”.
“At the very least, that person needs to be removed from society and held accountable for their crime,” the father said.
Australia requested Singh’s extradition to India in March last year, but he could not be located.
Australian prosecutors did not immediately respond when asked on Thursday how many people had been extradited since a bilateral deal between the two countries came into force in 2010.
Australia has been pursuing for 13 years the extradition of Indian citizen Puneet Puneet, 33, who was drunk driving and speeding in downtown Melbourne in 2008 when he ran over, killing a pedestrian and injuring another person.
Puneet pleaded guilty to traffic offenses in 2009 and fled to India months later using an Indian friend’s passport before being convicted. Puneet was arrested four years later on his wedding anniversary but has continued to fight extradition proceedings.
Australia extradited Indian citizen Jaskaran Singh Kalsi to India in 2014 to face murder charges. Kalsi flew to Australia on a student visa in 2012, a day after a Burundian student was fatally injured in a brawl in Jalandhar, in the northern state of Punjab.
In 2005, before an extradition deal was in place, Australia extradited Werner Wulf Ingo, an Australian citizen, to India on charges of being part of an international pedophile ring targeting children in the resort state of Goa.
Ingo was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Goa in 2007.