Suspected killer’s brother lashes out
The brother of the man suspected of murdering Preethi Reddy in a Sydney hotel room and dumping her body in a suitcase before allegedly killing himself has slammed reports his only sibling was responsible for the deaths.
In an exclusive interview today, Alok Narde - a doctor based in India - told news.com.au that he spoke to his younger brother and dentist Harshwardhan Narde, 34, at least 11 times on Monday between 11am and 8.55pm AEDT. By 10pm, Harshwardhan was dead.
"He told me Preethi was missing, he was one of the last few people who had seen her, and the police had called him for inquiry," Dr Narde said.
"I asked him do you have any information about her being missing? He said: 'We had met there but I don't know what happened later'.
"We were concerned as he didn't have family support (in Australia), hence the number of calls."
Dr Reddy, 32, was reported missing after she attended a dental convention at St Leonards, in the city's north, on Saturday and failed to return home the next day.
According to police, she spent the night with Harshwardhan, her ex-boyfriend and a dentist based in Tamworth, before she disappeared.
Dr Reddy was captured on CCTV inside McDonald's at the Strand Arcade in Sydney's CBD - amid Mardi Gras celebrations - about 2.15am on Sunday. CCTV footage shows Dr Reddy standing at the counter before she appeared to leave alone and walk south on Market St.
At 11am that same day, she spoke to her family over the phone and told them she would have a late breakfast then head home to Penrith. But she was never seen alive again.
Police spoke with Harshwardhan about Dr Reddy's disappearance before he was killed in a "deliberate" head-on collision on the New England Highway at Willow Tree, south of Tamworth, about 10pm on Monday.
"He informed me on Monday that he was called by local police for inquiry to which I told him to seek legal support if necessary," Dr Narde said.
"It appears that he either did not have enough time or space or may have opted to rush to (a) police station.
"His two sessions (with) police put him under severe physical strain and mental stress."
On Tuesday, Dr Reddy's bloodied body was found inside a suitcase in her car, parked in a laneway at Kingsford in Sydney's east. She had been stabbed multiple times.
A NSW Police spokesperson told news.com.au they were investigating Harshwardhan's possible involvement in Dr Reddy's murder and were not looking for any other suspects.
"At the outset I wish to pay our deepest condolences to Reddy family for loss of Dr Preethi
Reddy," Dr Narde said.
But he rejected claims his brother killed her and described the fatal head-on collision as "a tragic car accident".
"The kind of person Harsh is known to me and everyone, it's really not possible to believe ...he wouldn't have killed her or himself," he told news.com.au.
"We in India are still in a state of shock.
"The family is shattered, in tears, lots of our wellwishers coming in to meet daily."
Dr Narde said Harshwardhan spoke his last words to a close friend who called him just minutes before the crash.
"Harshwardhan stopped his car on the roadside to take the call from 9.45pm to 9.48pm," Dr Narde said. "He concluded the conversation assuring the friend that he was dropping his plan to go to Sydney and returning back home to Tamworth."
Dr Narde said the friend told him that Harshwardhan was "still composed even after a daylong grilling" by police.
"(He was) conscious enough to follow traffic rules and sensible enough to honour a friend's genuine request to return back home," he said.
"We have firm belief in the local judicial process and hope the reasons for the accident are not (assumed) while the investigation is still in progress."
A NSW Police spokeswoman told news.com.au that investigators "don't want to comment on specific details" and didn't respond to questions regarding the matter.
"We haven't been approached for knowing anything about him to facilitate investigations probably because of our absence in Australia," Dr Narde said.
"We haven't heard anything about the investigation."
SUSPECTED KILLER WANTED TO MARRY
According to Dr Narde, his brother immigrated to Australia from India in 2014 to develop his dentistry skills. He said Harshwardhan was in the process of being matched by his family with an Indian woman for an arranged marriage.
"He was a very methodic person and wanted to start his married life only after settling in his professional career," Dr Narde said.
"He had in recent times communicated his wish to get married and we in India had started locating a match him.
"He visited to meet family and friends also discussed selected match."
Dr Narde said the matching process was only in the early stages and that the family "hadn't arrived at a conclusion". He said Harshwardhan had recently told him that Dr Reddy had reached out to him after not communicating for about six months and that he wasn't "obsessed" with her as some of the dentist's friends reported.
"A week (or two) prior to the conference, Harshwardhan informed me that Preethi had
called him to express her wish to meet him," Dr Narde told news.com.au.
"Harshwardhan told me that he was not very keen on meeting Preethi and felt it was better to avoid meeting her.
"He informed her that he would be attending the conference to which Preethi said she would meet him (there).
"During our call I asked Harshwardhan as to why she wanted to meet him, to which he said, 'She just wanted to communicate'."
Dr Reddy's friends and family have vehemently denied those claims, saying she only ever spoke to Harshwardhan Narde because she felt sorry for him, and that he wouldn't "move on".
Her sister Nithya Reddy yesterday revealed she was "living her best life" with a new boyfriend before the "horrific tragedy".
According to Dr Narde, the dental practice in Tamworth where his brother worked had been vandalised since his death on Monday.
"We understand that dental clinic was a target of public wrath, stone pelting took place, and his practice prospects compromised," he said.
"It's too sad and unfair to (the other dentist who still works there)."
Dr Narde said his family was awaiting the completion of the police investigation into Dr Reddy's murder for the "release of Harshwardhan's body for transportation to India ASAP to carry out his last rites".
"We feel it's too difficult to believe that this could be an act of a single person and reports indicate investigation circling only around Harshwardhan and none other," Dr Narde said.
"With due respect to investigating agencies and full respect to law of land we wish to humbly submit that there could still be some open (or) untraced threads (or) angles to probe (about the possible) involvement of any other person."