A man suspected of murdering an Australian woman on a beach four years ago was arrested in India after a huge reward was announced for information leading to his arrest.
Rajwinder Singh, an Indian national, was arrested on Friday from the outskirts of the national capital Delhi, days after the Queensland government offered the largest reward in the history of the state for his arrest.
Toyah Cordingley, 24, was found murdered on Wangetti Beach of Queensland state on 22 October 2018 in what was called a “frenzied and brutal and sadistic” attack.
Mr Singh, who was employed as a nurse at Innisfail, fled to India hours after Cordingley’s body was found.
He left behind his wife and three children in Australia as he fled the country.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus confirmed Mr Singh’s arrest and said they are working closely with the Indian government to extradite him.
“This matter is a high priority for the Australian government and Australian agencies continue to work closely with Indian authorities to pursue Mr Singh’s extradition to Australia, to enable him to face justice,” Mr Dreyfus said.
The Australian government had applied for Mr Singh’s extradition for murder in March last year but he could not be found.
On 3 November, the Queensland government offered A$1mn (£563,000) reward for information, which was the largest reward offered in the history of the state.
The reward was unique in that it did not seek a clue that solves a crime and leads to a successful prosecution. Instead, the money is offered for information that leads only to a suspect’s location and arrest.
Delhi police arrested Mr Singh at 6am local time from a highway to his home state of Punjab, shortly after they received information of his whereabouts.
Police in Delhi said in a statement the arrest was made based on intelligence shared by the France-based international policing organisation Interpol as well as Australian police.
He was expected to appear in a New Delhi court later on Friday, police said.
Queensland police officers had travelled to India in late October and November to work with Australian Federal Police posted in New Delhi.
Not many details were shared about how Cordingley died. She had gone to walk her dog on the beach on 21 October 2018 but did not return home. Her body was found a day later, half buried in the sand.
Following the arrest, Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll said: “It was never a question of if, but when this day would come.”
“I am very confident we have a strong case to put before the courts.”
It is not yet clear whether the reward would be collected or who will collect it.
Commissioner Carroll said she will “happily write out the cheque myself” if it became clear that information which led to the arrest was qualified for the reward.
Queensland police minister Mark Ryan said the arrest in the case had a “long time coming” and “this is very early days in the next stage of delivering justice for Toyah.”
“I know people are excited about this development and I know people are relieved.”
The victim’s mother Vanessa Gardiner had previously described her daughter as “beautiful, spiritual”.
“Her life was taken way too early. I see her friends and stuff getting married with kids and that now and think of everything she has missed out on in her life,” Ms Gardiner said a few months ago.
Additional reporting by agencies