London: A 33-year-old NRI shopkeeper has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the UK for bludgeoning his British wife to death.

Devendra Singh will serve a minimum of 16 years for killing Charlotte Smith during an argument at their home in Straffordshire in the West Midlands region of England.

The 41-year-old died from serious head injuries at Ladderedge in Leek last September. The Indian national may then be deported to his home country after serving his jail sentence at the discretion of the UK Home Office.

Stafford Crown Court heard how Singh used a 2-kg ornamental wooden elephant to repeatedly hit his wife on the head after she reportedly asked for a divorce. During a five-day trial, senior pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki, who examined the body, said her injuries were among the worst he had ever seen during his 20-year career.

Smith's parents, Irene Cork and Peter Smith, released a statement after the sentencing on Monday, saying no matter how long Singh was jailed for, "Nothing will compensate for our loss".

Following the attack, he left his wife's body on the lounge floor and fled to London.

He put Charlotte's SIM into his own phone and sent text messages to Charlotte's family and friends – including her father – pretending to be her. His wife's body was discovered at the couple's house by her father on September 6, 2012, and Singh handed himself in at Leek police station later that day.

The couple had met during a holiday in India back in 2008. They began a relationship and got married in Goa in December 2010, following which Singh moved to the UK after obtaining a visa.

Smith had moved him into her Staffordshire home and her family opened a town centre shop for him to run when he could not find work. But prosecutors say by then the relationship was failing as Singh was prone to heavy drinking and aggression.

(Agencies)

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