A Sydney woman has told a jury of hearing a “blood-curdling, very high scream” before seeing her neighbour engulfed in “very orange flames” from the neck down and her husband behind her.
Tracey Valle said the husband, Kulwinder Singh, later told her “my life is ruined, my life is ruined” and “I am a good man, I just told her she needs to help out with the house more, otherwise we lose the house”.
Singh, 41, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering Parwinder Kaur, 32, on 2 December, 2013 at their Rouse Hill home.
The petrol-fuelled blaze caused burns to 90 per cent of her body.
The Crown alleges Singh was responsible for her death, while he told police “she did it to herself” while he was upstairs in their bedroom.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Ms Valle said she saw Ms Kaur covered in flames moving down the driveway while Singh was behind her with his hands outstretched towards the fire.
“The flame was so intense, ferocious, that he was just on the edge of it,” she said.
She ran outside and shouted “drop and roll, drop and roll” while Singh said: “get some water”.
She ran back inside, rang triple zero and grabbed a hose as she was talking to the operator
In her filmed walk-through with police, she said after emergency services arrived she spoke to Singh, who was pacing, then sitting down and fumbling with his phone.
He told her his life was ruined and that he had just told his wife she needed to contribute to the house “or we lose the house”.
“And I grabbed him and I said ‘what happened? what happened?”
She asked if his wife caught on fire at the stove or if her clothes got caught on something.
“And he didn’t really say anything. And he, then he said something in his language, and he said, ‘I’m a good man’.”
Singh also said something like: “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
He appeared to be very distraught and his fingers looked a bit burnt, she said.
When she asked where he had been, he replied: “I was here, the car and she came out.”
Another neighbour, Michelle Hartmann, said she heard a very high-pitched and continuous scream before she saw black smoke pluming over the top of Ms Valle’s house.
She ran outside and saw Ms Kaur engulfed in fire, moving slowly down the driveway, and her husband behind her.
“The husband was patting her on her left shoulder,” she said.
He was yelling and speaking in Indian and she told him to get blankets before she noticed the bottom of his pants were on fire.
She will continue her evidence on Wednesday after the jury is taken on a view of the fire scene.