Indian man appears in Australian court charged with murder
CAIRNS, Australia (AP) — An Indian national who was extradited from his homeland this week appeared in an Australian court on Friday charged with the murder of a woman whose body was found on an Australian beach more than four years ago.
Rajwinder Singh, 38, appeared from a police cell by a video link in the Cairns Magistrates Court in Queensland state to face a single count of murder.
Singh did not enter a plea. But he has previously denied in media interviews killing Toyah Cordingley, 24, as she walked her dog on Wanghetti Beach, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Cairns, in October 2018.
Prosecutors told Magistrate Cathy McLennan they will provide the defense with a brief of evidence by April 14.
Singh only spoke when McLennan asked if he could hear the court proceedings. He replied: “Yes, madam.”
Singh was excused from appearing when the charge is next scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 28. He did not apply to be released from custody on bail.
He faces a potential life sentence in prison if convicted of murder.
Defense lawyer Derek Perkins told reporters outside court his client was “innocent until proven guilty.”
Singh flew to Cairns from New Dehli via the Australian city of Melbourne with police escorts in recent days after an Indian court approved his extradition in late January.
Singh had returned to India from Sydney a day after Cordingley’s body was found and two days after her murder, leaving behind his wife and three children at their home south of Cairns in Innisfail, where he worked as a nurse.
He was arrested in November 2022 on the outskirts of the Indian capital. His arrest came three weeks after Queensland police targeted him with a 1 million Australian dollar ($677,000) reward.
Police would not comment on whether the reward had been collected, saying it was a confidential process.
Australia had applied to India for Singh’s extradition in March 2021, but he could not be found. Police suspect he spent most of his time since he left Australia in his home state of Punjab.