CANBERRA, Australia -- Australian police offered a 1 million Australian dollar ($633,000) reward on Thursday for information on the whereabouts of an Indian national who is suspected of murdering a woman on a tropical beach four years ago before returning to his homeland.
Queensland state police officers who speak Hindi and Punjabi are waiting in an office in Cairns to be contacted from India via WhatsApp or online about where Rajwinder Singh, 38, can be found, Detective Inspector Sonia Smith said.
Singh was a nurse working at Innisfail, south of Cairns, when the body of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley was found on Wangetti Beach on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
She had gone to the beach, north of Cairns, to walk her dog the day before.
Singh flew from Cairns to Sydney the day Cordingley’s body was found and left for India the following day, police said.
The reward is the largest in Queensland’s history and unique in that it does 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.
Police Minister Mark Ryan approved the reward and was confident people knew where Singh could be found.
“We know that people know this person, they know where this person is and we’re asking those people to do the right thing,” Ryan said.
“Now, there is a million reasons for a billion eyes around the world to help us deliver justice for Toyah,” he added.
Deputy Police Commissioner Tracy Lindford said detectives believed Singh remained in India. She appealed for witnesses among India's population of 1.4 billion people to come forward and “give some respite to the family who miss Toyah.”
Three Queensland detectives were already in India working with Indian authorities on the investigation, Smith said.
The victim’s parents, Troy Cordingley and Vanessa Gardiner, released a video statement pleading for public help to find her killer.
“I can’t believe that it’s a million dollars, but Toyah deserves that. She deserves every bit of it,” Gardiner said.
The father said bringing the killer to justice “is the very least that she deserved.”
“At the very minimum, this person must be removed from society and held accountable for their crime,” the father said.
Australia applied to India for Singh’s extradition in March last year but he could not be found.
Australia's Attorney-General’s Department said in a statement on Friday four people had been extradited from India to Australia and one person from Australia to India under a bilateral extradtition treaty that took effect in 2010.
Australia has been pursuing for 13 years the extradition of Indian national Puneet Puneet, 33, who was drunk-driving a car and speeding when he hit and killed a pedestrian and injured another person in downtown Melbourne in 2008.
Puneet pleaded guilty to driving offenses in 2009, then fled to India months later using an Indian friend’s passport before he was to be sentenced. Puneet was arrested on his wedding day four years later but has continued to fight extradition proceedings.
Australia extradited Indian national Jaskaran Singh Kalsi to India in 2014 to face a murder charge. Kalsi had flown to Australia on a student visa in 2012 a day after a Burundi student was fatally injured in a brawl in Jalandhar, in the northern state of Punjab.
In 2005, before an extradition treaty existed, Australia extradited Werner Wulf Ingo, an Australian citizen, to India on charges that he was part of an international pedophile ring targeting children in the resort state of Goa.
Ingo was sentenced in Goa in 2007 to 10 years in prison.