A 30-year-old woman whose body was found ablaze in the garden of her £1 million home, prompted police to launch a murder investigation, took her own life, an inquest heard.
Gurpreet Kaur was found dead on October 10, 2016, next to a petrol can and neighbours reported hearing screams, a man was arrested and quizzed by murder squad detectives over her killing – but no charges were ever brought.
Miss Kaur was living with her aunt and uncle in High Beeches, Gerrards Cross.
After the initial post mortem examination, a 58-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder. He was later released with no further action taken.
The inquest into Miss Kaur’s at Beaconsfield Coroner’s Court earlier this month heard that she had written notes on her phone saying she had had enough of life and could not carry on living.
Just ten minutes before it was believed she set herself on fire she recorded an argument with her uncle about education fees as she was in the process of applying for university courses for which she had been told by the Home Office she had to pass a English proficiency test to extend her student visa.
In a statement read out to the inquest Mr Matharu said: “Two weeks before her death Gurpreet was told by the Home Office that she needed to pass an English test to get her visa. She was looking at applying to university.
“My wife came back from the shops at around 4:45pm, I called for Gurpreet to get the door but she did not respond.
“I went to let my wife in. About five minutes later my wife called out to me about burning in the garden, she could see smouldering.
“I saw the remnants of a small fire near to the shed at the bottom of the garden. I went out of the patio door and then I went to the shed and found Gurpreet.
“I called Baldev to get me a phone and a blanket and I called 999. When the paramedics got there they told me Gurpreet was dead.”
One neighbour, Kerri McGillivray-Griswold, said she heard a scream and saw smoke when waiting outside to take her daughter horse-riding.
Another neighbour, Gurpreet Benwait, said: “I looked out the window and saw smoke rising between from between gardens on High Beeches. It was only a small amount. It was just after my two daughters got home from school, at about 4.45pm.”
Paramedics arrived at the scene but established that by 5.10pm that Ms Kaur was dead. A lighter, which had her DNA on it, and a melted petrol canister were found next to the body.
The death was initially believed to be murder as forensic pathologist, Dr Alexander Kolar, found “significant pin point bleeding” on her face and eye which were classic signs of asphyxiation before being set alight. He also stated the death could have been due to the burns.
“My cause of death was unascertained at autopsy,” he said.
Dr Colin Rayner, a burns expert who treated victims in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk and has advised for the National Crime Agency since 2008, said that he believed the cause of death was most likely asphyxiation from dirt lodged Ms Kaur’s mouth and nose.
This would have got there when she fell after pouring petrol over herself possibly as she was kneeling and set herself alight.
“I think she suffocated,” he said
Neil Morling, an expert fire investigator with London Fire Brigade, confirmed that it was most likely that Ms Kaur was standing up when she caught fire, but could not give empirical evidence as to the exact way in which the fire started.
He also stated that the location of the worst burns on Ms Kaur’s body would make sense if she had poured the petrol on herself.
Summing up, Mr Butler said: “The injuries on her body are consistent with her light herself on fire after covering herself in petrol.
“I therefore record a conclusion of suicide.”