You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.
Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.
The house at 20 Grass Tree Close, Bridgeman Downs stood proud in the warm sunshine of an early autumn afternoon. It was the large, double story family home of the Singh family. A house that has seen many happy times, but perhaps more frequently – some tumultuous times, as secrets and lies were exposed and the line between love and hate was very thin.
In April 2003, Vijay and Shirley Singh were on a business trip in Fiji and decided to leave their children at home. Neelma was 24, her brother Kunal 18 and their little sister Sidhi 12. Neelma was in between jobs and promised her parents that she would take care of the household and her siblings.
Everything was fine, until Tuesday afternoon the 22nd of April… The inside of the house was engulfed in a wave of spine-chilling silence. The only sound was that of water bubbling in an upstairs spa bath.
From three of the upstairs bedrooms, were trails of blood, leading into the bathroom, up to the spa bath. The taps were open and hot water was pouring into the tub. It was overflowing to such an extent that the downstairs ceiling was bulging with the weight of the water.
Inside were the bodies of Neelma, Kunal and Sidhi, one stacked on top of the other – a scene that left even the most hardened first responders at a loss for words…
What took place in the Singh home that led to the brutal deaths of the three siblings?
The Singh family moved to Brisbane, Australia from Fiji in the early 1990s. Vijay and Sheila Singh had four children and over the years nurtured their roots by visiting Fiji often. Vijay imported and exported auto parts and business was good.
In 1997, the second oldest daughter, Neelma was 16 when she started a relationship with a man called Amit Lala. She saw him behind her father’s back, because she was not allowed to date. But on a balmy October night their secret was exposed when Neelma’s father Vijay caught them speaking to each other on the phone. In a fit of rage, Vjiay attacked his daughter with a pool cue. The punishment he dealt that day, was so severe, Neelma couldn’t walk for three days. Vijay Singh was charged with assault, fined $1000 and sentenced to a three year good behaviour bond.
Two years later, in August 1999, 18-year-old Neelma Singh went to Fiji where she took a job as a receptionist at the Raffles Tradewinds Hotel in the city of Suva. During this time, she fell in love with a man called Jasveer Singh – everybody called him Veeru. Neelma was still in a relationship with Amit Lala, so did not act on her feelings for Veeru. Instead she returned to Brisbane in December of the same year, after working in Fiji for only four months.
A year later, Neelma ended the relationship with Amit, saying that she wanted to work for an airline and see the world. She was not ready to settle down yet. She did not find her dream job straight away, however, but remained in the hospitality industry, working in guest services for Pacific International Apartments in Brisbane.
In 1993, the family moved into a home in Stafford, in the north of Brisbane, next door to an Italian-Australian family, the Sica’s. The Sica’s had two children, Claudio and Roseanna. They had migrated to Australia from Naples in 1970. Mother Anna was pregnant with her youngest, Massimo (or Max), when they arrived south of Sydney and he spent his formative years in the land down under.
However, Anna struggled to adapt to her new life in Wollongong and when Max was 11 years old, the family returned to Italy for two years. This time, Max was the one who struggled to fit in to his parents’ native country and found the schools to be too restrictive. The Sica’s returned to Australia, this time Brisbane, where Max graduated high school in 1987.
Max Sica remembered that his family life was tainted with aggression and violence. When he was five years old, his father threatened to kill the whole family. His mother bundled the children into a room and his father fired several shots through the door. After hearing that Max had told this story to his prison psychologist, his brother and sister defended their family and said that this alleged shooting never happened.
In 1989, the Sica family moved into a home on Trouts Road, Stafford. The family owned an Italian restaurant and all the kids were roped in to help out. Max Sica always felt that he was destined for something greater and blamed his parents for making him work at the restaurant, which left him with no spare time to pursue his dreams. However, in later years, an IQ test proved that he was of average intelligence, not as intellectually strong as he believed he was.
Despite complaining about his truck load of responsibilities, Sica did have free time, the only thing is, he chose to spend it causing trouble. He met up with some guys he knew from high school and the bunch of them were up to no good. They spent their nights scanning police radio networks and burglarizing homes or businesses before setting buildings on fire. When the made their getaway, they listened to police communications and found the thrill of it all exhilarating.
It is alleged that Sica had hidden ambitions to become a police officer, so he was quick to criticise law enforcement. Some nights, if he felt they took too long to respond to the scene of a burglary, he would call them and asked them what the delay was.
On one occasion, Sica set a fire at a police station in an attempt to destroy evidence they had against him. Once he was caught, he did not own up to what he had done. Instead, he was quick to point the finger at his friends, blaming peer pressure for his actions. In letters he wrote to prison authorities, Sica claimed that he never drank alcohol, abused hard drugs or gambled. He admitted to using marijuana from time to time, but that was all.
In 1993, he was charged with no less than 83 offences and sentenced to nine years in prison. On this occasion, the judge said that the 23-year-old Max Sica’s actions were…
“…a display of lawlessness on a grand scale.”
A prison psychologist noted that the 23-year-old Sica was, without a doubt, a criminal psychopath – the worst kind.
He was released on parole in 1996 after serving only three years. From appearances it looked like Sica’s criminal days were behind him. He found a job at a computer company, he got married and became a dad.
But Sica wasn’t cut out for a life of suburban bliss. He hooked up with one of his bad news school buddies again and in October 1997, he was caught for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a house of a man who had angered him in the past. Sica said that they were high at the time and they had had quite a bit to drink, contradicting his earlier statement in which he said he DIDN’t drink. For the most part, he blamed his friend for instigating the whole thing, including making the Molotov cocktail.
Because of this attack, Sica was sent to prison again. An article in the Courier Mail, quotes the psychological evaluation written by psychiatrist Ian Atkinson after he assessed Sica in 1999. It says:
"This man quite clearly produces most of the symptomatology of a Borderline Personality Disorder, mixed with some features of Italian family loyalty… What is very clear is that this man came from a very dysfunctional family… There were clearly lots of episodes of severe conflict between his father and his mother, resulting in her having a considerable amount of psychiatric treatment. His father was apparently aggressive towards the prisoner and, at times, threatened to kill him and other members of the family when he lost control of his temper."
In May 2001, 31-year-old Max Sica was released on parole. He returned to his family home and became friendly with their neighbours, the Singh family. Sheila Singh ran her beauty and massage business from home and occasionally asked Sica to help her with her computer. Sica noticed Sheila’s 21-year-old daughter Neelma and found any excuse to spend more time at the Singh home.
In September 2001, Sica and Neelma began seeing each other in secret. They kept their romance quiet at first, as it was nothing more than an innocent affair. Within a couple of months, it had grown into a steamy relationship and they went to great lengths to meet in secret. They only ever met romantically at Sica family’s holiday apartment on Bribie Island, about 2 hours up the coast from Brisbane.
But the tides were about to change… Neelma’s dream of becoming an air hostess were coming true when she was accepted to commence training as a flight attendant with Emirates Airlines – an opportunity that would take her to Dubai.
Sica did not want to lose Neelma and in March 2002, their relationship was exposed when he asked Vijay Singh for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Vijay said no and the conversation turned into a heated argument.
Despite her father’s disapproval, Neelma maintained a long-distance relationship with Sica, while she was training to be an air hostess in Dubai and he remained in Brisbane. Sica was finding his feet and trying his best to clean up his life, in order to be in a stronger position to marry Neelma. He promised her that he would find her a job in Australia, working for Qantas, if she only came back to him.
Around this time, Sica saw his parole officer and told him that Vijay Singh had threatened to kill him if he didn’t break off the relationship with Neelma. In fact, Vijay Singh was so serious about breaking off all contact with Sica and his family, that he sold his house and uprooted his family to a new home, at Grass Tree Close in Bridgeman Downs.
Neelma Singh pined for her boyfriend and believed Sica when he said that he had secured a job for her in Australia. She quit her job at Emirates – without telling her parents – and returned to Brisbane in May 2002. Without her parent’s knowledge she moved into the Sica family’s holiday apartment on Bribie Island. After six weeks, Sica made an anonymous phone call to the Singh’s to tell them where Neelma was and that she was safe and cared for.
A couple of weeks later, the honeymoon was over, so-to-speak, and Neelma moved back to her parent’s home in Bridgeman Downs. Living with Sica, she had become disillusioned about him. When the excitement of sneaking around and having an illicit affair had died down, she started seeing him for who he really was. Neelma told her mother that he was a compulsive liar. He was also very jealous and extremely possessive of her. Neelma suspected that Sica was a computer hacker and did not trust him anymore. As far as Neelma was concerned, the relationship was over.
In August 2002, the Singh family hosted a party for Kunal’s 18th birthday at their home. On this occasion, someone threw a brick through their porch sliding door, breaking the glass and causing a scene. Nobody saw who it was that threw the brick, but the family had their suspicions. Neelma’s older sister Sonia Pathik, who was married and did not live in the family home took matters into her own hands and emailed Sica. In their correspondence, Sonia called him a control freak and told him to stay away from her family. She knew Neelma could take care of herself, but she saw that her sister was struggling to move on from her relationship while Sica was still harassing the family.
Shortly after this, Neelma tried to get back her job with Emirates, but her application to ‘rejoin’ was denied. She had left her job because Sica promised her he had already lined up a job for her at Qantas. This was a blatant lie, he only wanted her to come back to Brisbane to be with him. As their relationship fell apart, Neelma realised that this man was going to ruin her life if she were to stay with him, so she went back home. But home wasn’t the best environment either.
Neelma told a friend that her mother had assaulted her in a fit of anger. Furious about the fact that Neelma brought Sica into their family, Shirley resorted to physical violence in order to punish her grown daughter.
Vijay Singh was spending more and more time in Fiji and Shirley had had enough. She knew he was unfaithful to her and Neelma was drawn into her parents’ marital issues. Shirley took Neelma to Fiji with her with the intention of confronting the women who were sleeping with her husband.
But, as is the case with abusive relationships, Neelma was still pining for her ex-boyfriend, Max Sica. She emailed him and confided in him about her father’s infidelity, saying that he had as many as six to eight mistresses in Fiji. Neelma said she wanted to get her father “beaten and bruised”. The implication was that she was asking Sica to do it.
After the mother and daughter returned from Fiji, the Singh family home became the target for anonymous, threatening phone calls. Vijay Singh reported the harassment and said that he suspected that the phone calls were made by one of the women whom he had had an affair with. Then, stunningly, he admitted that his wife could be behind the phone calls, in an attempt to put an end to his philandering.
In November 2002, Neelma visited Fiji once again. She met up with the man she knew from her receptionist days at Raffles Tradewinds, Veeru Singh. Their latent feelings for each other flared up and soon their romance developed into a passionate sexual relationship. When Neelma returned to Australia, they stayed in touch.
From phone records one can see that Sica was also still in contact with Neelma. Multiple phone calls were made between Neelma’s mobile phone and the Sica home’s landline.
Around this time an unknown person – only known by his email address – started rocking the boat in the Singh family home yet again. email@example.com sent an email to the entire Singh family and members of the Fijian Indian community exposing Vijay and Shirley’s oldest daughter Sonia as a dominatrix. The photo, found on a BDSM website, under the profile Jasbaby 8, had been photoshopped. The original photo could be found on Sonia’s home computer. Sica had hacked into her computer to access her personal photos, then used a friend’s ID to create the Hotmail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
One evening, Max Sica confronted Neelma’s father, Vijay, at his house in Bridgeman Downs. Sica accused him of sexually assaulting his youngest daughter Sidhi. He also confronted him about his illicit affairs in Fiji and the pain he caused his family. Vijay Singh tried to get away from Sica and barricaded himself inside his home office. Sica broke the door down, grabbed him by the neck and pushed him up against the wall, threatening to take his life.
It ended there and Vijay Singh was not seriously injured, although his ego was bruised. He reported the incident to police and gave them a microcassette of the confrontation. Sica could be heard saying:
"I know what you did to your daughter. I know what you did to us. I can cave your f--king head in right now and get away with it, capisce?"
After the attack, Vijay moved in with his oldest daughter Sonia and her family, because he feared for his safety. But there was more to it. On the tape recording, Sheila Singh can also be heard accusing Vijay of molesting his daughter. There was a story that Sidhi had told a school councillor that she had been abused, but there was no evidence to support the claim.
Shirley Singh was furious with Sica for attacking Vijay and banned him from ever coming to their home or her daughter ever again.
The relationship between Sica and Neelma was over, but they were still in frequent contact. In December 2002, Veeru Singh called Neelma from Fiji to wish her a happy birthday. Strangely, their phone conversation was cut off halfway through. Later that night, Veeru received a threatening phone call from Sica, telling him to stop calling Neelma, because she didn’t want anything to do with him. He told Veeru that he knew about their ‘fling’ in Fiji, but that Neelma was now with him and if Veeru knew what was good for him, he’d stay away.
But they weren’t together. In fact, Neelma was becoming increasingly cautious of Sica and started keeping a diary of their phone calls. The Singh family changed all their locks and installed a security system, mainly to keep Sica out.
In January 2003, Sica told a friend that his relationship with Neelma was over and done with, because her parents were too involved and would not allow it. It seemed like Sica had finally accepted it and was ready to move on.
Neelma wondered why Veeru stopped calling and reached out to him. She was confused when she learnt that Sica had told him they were together. She assured him that they were no longer romantically involved and that they also were not together when Veeru called for her birthday. She assured Veeru that she was no longer in love with Sica.
Neelma felt like Sica somehow listened to her conversations and read her emails. She called her internet provider to change her username and start a new connection. After Neelma had spoken to Veeru about NOT being love with Sica, Shirley Singh arrived home one afternoon to find Max Sica walking down the stairs in a huff. He exploded and told her:
“Do you know that Veeru has been fucking you daughter?”
Afraid that Sica may have hurt Neelma, Shirley rushed upstairs to her daughter’s room. Neelma was in a state of shock. She told her mom that Sica tried to strangle her, but she managed to fend him off. When Shirley went downstairs, there was no sign of Sica.
Not long after this incident, another email was sent from email@example.com. This time, the subject line read “Singh Family Crisis”. The email made the accusation that Vijay Singh had sexually assaulted his daughters. This was followed by another email, with the subject ‘Baat’, which means ‘Gossip’. Again, the email hoped to spread rumours about Sonia having a raunchy, promiscuous online sex life. None of which was true.
Neelma reported her concerns about Sica’s increasingly irrational and possessive behaviour to Stafford Police. She was accompanied by her father and they played recorded phone conversations between Neelma and Sica to police. Police took the statement, but there was not much more they could do at that point in time, but advise Neelma to be alert and keep a log of her communication with Sica.
Meanwhile, Sica met with his parole officer and told him that Neelma has been threatening HIM. According to Sica, it started when HE ended the relationship and he was concerned that her behaviour was spiralling out of control.
Then things got strange… Sica reached out to Neelma’s ex-boyfriend from her teenage years, Amit Lala. He accused Amit of wanting to get back together with Neelma. Amit denied it, but Sica was convinced he was chasing after Neelma. Distraught about this ‘out-of-the-blue’ attack, Amit asked Neelma’s brother Kunal to meet with him at a café in Brookside. Kunal opened up to Amit and told him about the bad blood between Sica and his family and suggested Amit let sleeping dogs lie.
However, Amit could not let it go. He had become concerned about his ex-girlfriend and made a point of calling Neelma every couple of days to check in.
Then another group email was sent out to the Singh family, their friends and associates. This time, from the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. It was a forwarded message, the email Neelma had sent Sica from Fiji, in which she said she wished her father could be ‘beaten and bruised’ after cheating on her mom.
This email was followed by another one, containing naked photos of Neelma. This time, the sender also added Amit Lala to the mailing list. Neelma was mortified. She reported the slandering emails to police and told them that the photos were taken consensually when she was living with Sica on Bribie Island.
Neelma started a fiery email exchange with Sica, telling him that she knew he was the one who had sent the photos. In the emails, Sica denies that he was ‘raj’ or ‘baat’ and incensed that she could think he would ever do anything like that. He vowed to find ‘raj’ if it was the last thing he did. He told a friend that he believed HIS computer had been hacked. He told the same friend that he was still sleeping with Neelma and that they made up elaborate stories to get together so that Vijay Singh would not find out.
Around this time, Sica also told Neelma that he was terminally ill. He said that he had a brain tumour and contemplated ending his own life. In a message to Neelma, dated March 15th 2003, he said:
“It's hard to tell you everything when u keep hanging up. I have some stuff I really need to speak to u about. I haven't got long left Nim, I'm sick.”
Two weeks later, 1 April 2003, Sica seemed to have moved on at last. He started a relationship with Nicole Zwoerner. Nicole was somewhat concerned about her new boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, but Sica assured her he was over Neelma. In fact, he told Nicole that he was working with Neelma’s dad and her uncle as well as some mutual friends to set Neelma up with her teen sweetheart, Amit Lala. This could not have been farther from the truth. Firstly, Sica and Vijay Singh would never have done anything together, even if it was finding Neelma another boyfriend. His obsession with Amit Lala was also strange, why was he trying so hard to bring him back into Neelma’s life?
On the 13th of April Vijay and Shirley Singh flew to Fiji for one of their frequent business trips. Sica later admitted that, even though he had a new girlfriend, he paid Neelma a couple of nocturnal visits. He said he spent the night of the 13th, 15th and 17th of April with Neelma at the Singh family home. He arrived after 10:30pm and parked a distance away so Kunal and Sindhi would not see his car. Once they were asleep, Neelma would call his cell phone, hanging up after one ring. That was the signal that the coast was clear and Sica could enter through a back garage door that was left unlocked. After spending the night with Neelma, he would get up early and left before 6am, so as to avoid her brother and sister.
On the 13th of April 2003 Neelma Singh printed a Hindu blessing, an inspirational message hoping for recovery. She gave this to Sica, because she thought he was dying. Both Neelma’s and Sica’s fingerprints were on the sheet of paper, so she must have given it to him.
The Wednesday before Easter, Sica sent an anonymous text to Amit Lala, asking him to meet an ‘old friend’ for lunch. Amit was curious and only found out Sica was behind the message when he saw him at the meeting point, outside Queens Street Post Office.
Sica told Amit a story that simply didn’t fit into any semblance of the truth. Sica said that he was never romantically involved with Neelma, because he was actually gay. Neelma helped him and posed as his girlfriend, because he did not want his parents to know about his sexual orientation. He also told Amit the story of the inoperable brain tumour and said that he only had a couple of weeks left to live. He ended the conversation by giving Amit his blessing, should he want to rekindle his relationship with Neelma.
The truth was that Sica was not gay. He was seeing Nicole Zwoerner and wanted to be with her, but he was still sleeping with Neelma. His attempt to reconcile Neelma with her ex, Amit, was a manipulative piece of work. He knew that Neelma did not like Amit, but her family did. Pretending to be the gracious deathbed matchmaker who yearned to leave everyone in peace after he passed away, was as conniving as it gets.
Neelma did not know that Sica had been in contact with Amit and would definitely not have been okay with this macabre matchmaking effort. In fact, around this time, she was very concerned about Sica’s ailing health. Sure they’ve had their ups and downs, but they HAD been a vital part of each other’s lives for three years and the thought of him dying upset her deeply. Neelma confided in a friend about Sica’s brain tumour. She also said that Sica had come out to her, but she was somewhat confused about the bombshell that he was gay. However, as he had limited time to live, she felt it was OK to keep on seeing him. Which she did.
On the Thursday night before Easter weekend, Neelma sent Sica a text at 11pm:
“My arm hurts real bad. It is throbbing bad. Can't move it. Very sore. What should I do?”
The next day was Good Friday and Sonia had invited her siblings for breakfast. At breakfast, Neelma complained about her arm, but would not let Sonia look at it. She downplayed it and said she probably hurt it by sleeping on it. Which wasn’t true, as she had complained about it to Sica in a text the night before. In the afternoon, she sent Sica a text, saying:
“Arm still very sore. I am good. It’s all right about last night. Take it easy”.
She also spoke to Veeru that day, who called to wish her a Happy Easter. They had deep feelings for each other and Veeru recalled they even mentioned the possibility of marriage in their conversation.
On the Saturday Neelma went to a lunch party at New Farm Park. Her brother’s girlfriend recalled seeing a bruise on her arm. When she asked her about it, she became defensive and said that she had bumped it on something.
On the 20th of April, Easter Sunday, Sica told an inmate friend in Arthur Gorie Prison that he was still trying his best to get Amit Lala and Neelma together. He was furious with Neelma for telling her parents that he had a brain tumour and was facing imminent death. Why would he be furious if this is what he had told her? Clearly the whole story was a lie.
Between 5 and 8pm, the three Singh siblings were at home and various texts were sent to friends and family members, all indicating they were having an unremarkable evening at home. Kunal had been invited to a party, but he didn’t go because he wasn’t feeling well. He told another friend that he would rather stay home, because Neelma wanted a quiet night.
Neelma was logged onto her computer between 5 and 7:30pm. In that time she was chatting to friends on messenger. She also printed out another Hindu blessing for Sica, about healing. However, she never gave it to him. Neelma sent Sica a text saying:
“Well see u later tonight and then chat. I think I am coming down with something. Feeling a day before u get sick, will give the one ring.”
Neelma’s last message on MSN Messenger was to her sister Sonia was at 8:30pm. She said:
‘‘I have to go ... there is someone at the door.’’
At 10pm that night, Sica’s parents Carlo and Anna arrived home and found Sica and his brother Claudio playing games on the computer in Claudio’s room.
The next morning, Amit Lala sent Neelma a text message, inviting her out to lunch, but she did not reply. In fact, none of the Singh siblings replied to any messages or phone calls all day. On Tuesday morning the 22nd of April, Neelma did not show up for a job interview at Flight Centre, something she had been looking forward to.
It was not until that afternoon, when a call was made to Brisbane emergency services that the fate of the Singh siblings were made known. Max Sica told the operator that he had found three bodies in a bathtub and they had to come quickly.
He had arrived at the property around 2pm with his two children and his niece. He would later state that he had gone to the Singh home so his kids could play with Neelma’s younger sister Sidhi before seeing a movie.
Painters who were painting a neighbour’s house saw Sica go inside, entering through the back garage door, for about 15 minutes before he came outside again. When he came outside, he was holding the Singh’s pet dog Bujo, which he gave to the children. Before Sica called triple-zero, he called his parents and told them that Neelma was dead. Then he called emergency services.
First responders arrived at the scene 20 minutes after receiving the phone call. The first paramedics to go inside, had a look at the tub and concluded that there were only two bodies. It was only when a police officer went upstairs and had a closer look that he saw Kunal’s body beneath a pillow, at the bottom of the three-high pile of bodies. How did Sica know there were three bodies, if he only just stumbled across them?
Vijay and Sheila Singh arrived home from Fiji to face the nightmare awaiting them at home. From the start they were convinced that Max Sica was the one who had killed their children.
On the day the bodies were found, Sica was interviewed at Petrie police station, accompanied by his father, Carlo. His testimony had some inconsistencies. For instance, he said that Sidhi Singh was wearing coloured shorts, blue or green. Photographs taken of the bodies are said to show that Sidhi Singh was wearing black tracksuit pants, not shorts.
Crime scene evidence: none of the locks were broken, indicating that the killer was let into the house by either Neelma, Kunal or Sidhi, someone known to them. The alarm was checked and it was found to be in working order, but it wasn’t armed. Some personal items were stolen from inside the home. For the most part it was Neelma Singh’s jewellery. More valuable property was untouched, like computers and cell phones, but Neelma’s diary was missing.
Neelma’s blood was found on the carpet in her bedroom. The sheets had been removed from her bed and put in the bath, with the bodies. The sheets showed evidence of bleaching and bleach was also found in the bathroom, surrounding the spa bath. The chemicals in bleach is known to destroy DNA material.
All three victims suffered head injuries caused by a garden fork. They were killed first, then taken to the bathtub. It was concluded that Neelma was killed first, by manual strangulation, then hit over the head with the garden fork perimortem, which means either just before or just after she passed. Sidhi, who often slept in her parents’ room with the light on because she was afraid of the dark, died from blunt force trauma to the head. Kunal also suffered blunt force trauma, but he was placed in the bathtub while he was still alive but unconscious. In the end, he drowned.
On the 25th of April, Sica conducts a walk-through of the Singh home with police. Footage of a distraught Sica outside the Singh home was aired on the news. He was wearing a blue forensics suit, wiping away tears as his father supported him.
Ten days later police found the murder weapon – the garden fork – behind a BBQ in the Singh’s garage.
On May 14th a funeral was held for all three Singh children. When Max Sica arrived to pay his respects, Shirley and Vijay Singh requested police took him away – he was not welcome. When the dust had settled, Vijay and Sheila were faced with an empty home that used to be always busy and full of action. The silence after losing all their children must have been deafening. They kept the three bedrooms the way Neelma, Kunal and Sindhi had left it, as a shrine.
In the months after the deaths, Sica spoke candidly with the media and told reporters that the brain tumour was a made up story, but he said that it was Neelma’s idea. She thought that if they told her parents he was terminally ill, they would have more sympathy towards him. He professed his innocence before he was officially named a suspect.
It took investigators five years to build the case against Sica. Queensland police kept surveillance on him and international experts were consulted about footprint evidence and DNA evidence. Forensic computer and telecommunications analysis experts were also brought in to sypher through all the fake emails and actual conversations between Sica and the Singh family.
A footprint expert could not definitively conclude that the footprints at the scene, made by someone wearing socks, were made by Max Sica.
Investigators learnt that Sica owned two personal computers. On the evening of Monday 21 April, the night before the bodies were discovered, he activated a program to delete all data from one of them. His second computer, kept at the family holiday apartment on Bridie Island, revealed a list of email addresses identical to those to which the nude photographs Neelma Singh were sent. So this proved that Sica was behind the harassing emails, but did it prove that he was a murderer?
Five years after the murders, a friend of the Sica family, called Andrea Bowman said that Sica told her:
“Do you know how hard it is to kill someone when somebody says, 'please don't, don't please?”
A month later, she tried to record him confessing again, but he denied ever having confessed in the first place.
On the 22nd of December 2009, Sica married his girlfriend Shiva. But their marital bliss was short-lived when, a week later, he was charged with all three murders in the Singh case.
Max Sica’s trial began just over two years later, on the 31st of January 2012. He pleaded not guilty. The admission of guilt by Andrea Bowman was a contentious issue. Sica’s defence team tried to have the evidence excluded, but their application was denied.
Sica’s phone call from the Singh residence shortly after discovering the bodies was played in court to support their argument that he was the one who had committed the murders. The fact that he knew there were three bodies in the spa bath when first responders only saw the body of Sidhi Singh, begged an explanation.
On the 3rd of July 2012, Max Sica was found guilty of all three murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 35 years. Never in the history of Queensland, has a punishment been this harsh. Justice Byrne said that Sica was ‘manipulative and deceitful’ and showed no remorse. He added:
“Your only anxiety is for self-preservation.”
When Sica was given the opportunity to address the court he said:
“I didn't kill no one… The Queensland justice system is corrupt.”
Sica filed an appeal, which was dismissed in 2013. The Sica family has many supporters who believe that he is in fact innocent and that his, is a case of miscarriage of justice. Carlo Sica said in court:
“If I believed my son had committed such a horrible crime, I would kill him myself!"
After the Singh murder trial, Sica was charged with 21 sex offences, which included maintaining a long-term sexual relationship with an underaged girl for four years. The girl was only nine when the alleged affair began. Sica requested a judge-only trial, because he felt that after his conviction of the murder of the Singh siblings, he would not receive a fair trial by jury.
In March 2013, Sica was found not guilty on all 21 charges, due to a lack of evidence. This verdict was met with great joy by Sica’s family and supporters, who believed that there was a witch hunt out to get Max Sica at any cost.
There is no doubt that Max Sica is a troubled man with a propensity for violence. But in the murders of the Singh siblings, there are some loose ends, that do not fit into the case against him.
Firstly, there is the lack of motive. Why would Sica want Neelma and her siblings dead? The relationship between him and Neelma was perhaps rocky and clandestine, but they were still very much a part of each other’s lives. Text messages between them proved that it was consensual. She did ask him to come over and she left the door open for him so he could sneak into her home.
Which beckons the next question… If they went through so much trouble to avoid Kunal and Sidhi seeing Sica at the Singh home, would he go to the front door at 8:30, knowing everyone was still awake? Remember Sonia said her last message from Neelma was that there was somebody at the door. Who was it?
Is there perhaps an outside chance that the actual target was Vijay Singh? Could it be that one of his mistress’s husbands took his revenge by taking his romantic rival’s family from him? Could it be the same person who had made threatening phone call? A recording of the call was played in court. An unidentified man said:
“You are fucking with my family and I am going to fuck with your family.”
On the night of the murders, an unidentified car was seen near the Singh house. Neighbours saw a dark blue car parked at the end of the cul-de-sac, but the car was gone the next morning. They also saw a tall, slender man get out of the vehicle and walk towards the Singh home, but could not identify him. The car was similar to Sica’s and the description of the man resembled Sica. But it is very circumstantial.
In April 2019, 16 years after the murders, Sica requested a pardon. A breakthrough in forensic drowning research was published in 2017. If this is considered in examining the crime scene at the Singh home, the times of deaths changes dramatically. It would mean that Neelma, Kunal and Sidhi were not killed in the night of Easter Sunday going into Easter Monday, but 14-26 hours later, a timeframe for which Max Sica has a reliable alibi.
However, that would not explain why all three siblings were not responding to text messages and phone calls during the entire day of Easter Monday. The last contact they had with anyone was on Sunday night. Sheila Singh dismissed the new theory, saying QUOTE
“It is a load of crap… I am 100% certain Max Sica killed my children.”
Max Sica is currently serving his life sentence at the maximum security section of the Wacol Correctional Centre. He will only be eligible for parole in 2047.
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