NRI couple die in suicide pact ahead of sentencing

Banker wife was facing jail in UK for stealing from customers

Thirty-one-year-old Bindi Dhanji, who worked as a senior clerk with HSBC, disappeared from Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday after meeting her lawyers.

The bodies of Dhanji and her husband Kishore were found on Wednesday morning, hanging from a footbridge near their home at Staples Corner junction off the North Circular Road. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police and paramedics attended the bodies of a man and a woman.” Officers believe they know the identity of the deceased and next of kin have been informed, but await formal identification. The case has now been referred to the coroner.

According to sources, Dhanji used the stolen money to put down an £80,000-deposit on a house in Watford, Herts.

The clerk, from north London, was facing up to six years prison after admitting two counts of theft.

In May 2009, she confessed to stealing from the customers but claimed a man she was not prepared to name had threatened her with violence unless she handed him cash.
She stole £1,18,000 from two pensioners’ accounts while working at the bank’s Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Road branches in West London.

Dhanji said she targeted pensioners because she thought their bank accounts would not be properly checked.

In the first case, she pocketed £54,700 from the account of one elderly customer, continuing to withdraw money for 10 months after she died in February 2008.

She also stole £64,148 from a second customer in her eighties after befriending her, lavishing the woman with flowers and chocolates. HSBC reimbursed the accounts of both victims.

Panic-stricken

Dhanji and her husband met her legal team before sentencing on Tuesday morning, but the pair fled before her case was heard.

Explaining her disappearance to the court on Tuesday her lawyer, Richard Parry, said: “She clearly seems to have panicked. She seemed to be, I thought, fairly stoical about the outcome. Her husband took a different view, he seemed to place too much reliance on the pre-sentence report.” Judge Anthony Pitts then issued a bench warrant for Dhanji’s arrest, saying: “It does seem like she has taken flight at first glance, I must confess, from what you have told me.”

Appealing for her return before discovering she was dead, Detective Constable Malcolm Jolly, of City of London Police, said Dhanji abused a position of trust to steal from two elderly and vulnerable women.

“Bindi Dhanji has admitted to committing a serious crime and now needs to face the judge and receive her punishment in full,” he said.

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