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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: She laced the victim's coffee with Rohypnol, then injected him with heroin
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 26, 1997
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: September 3, 1972
Victim profile: Joe Cinque, 26 (her boyfriend)
Method of murder: Poisoning (massive dose of heroin)
Location: Canberra, Australia
Status: Found not guilty of murder due to diminished responsibility, but guilty of manslaughter on April 23, 1999. Sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with four years of non-parole period on June 24, 1999. Released on parole in October 2001

Anu Singh (born 3 September 1972) is an Australian of Indian descent who, in 1997, while a law student at the Australian National University, killed her boyfriend, Joe Cinque. She laced his coffee with Rohypnol, then injected him with heroin. The crime was very widely reported in Australia. After completing four years in prison, Singh has attracted controversy with her stated career aims with regard to the justice system.

Joe Cinque's death

In 1997, Singh and Cinque lived together in Canberra. A friend of Singh's told her 1998 trial that Singh had been obsessed with her body starting from 1991 and had briefly taken Ipecac after Cinque mentioned it, something she was later angry with him for. In May 1997 she told a friend that she wanted to kill a number of people, including Cinque and her doctors.

Singh's close friend Madhavi Rao invited acquaintances to two dinner parties in October 1997 and told them that a terrible crime would be committed. Witness Sanjeeva Tennekoon reported that the first dinner party on 24 October was normal and that Singh and Cinque appeared loving but another witness told the court that Rao had told her afterwards that Singh had tried to kill Cinque that evening but could not deliver a sufficient dose, and that the witness had threatened to go to the police. The day after the first dinner party, Singh and Rao went to a friend, Len Mancini, and told him they had given Cinque drugs the previous evening.

Cinque died on 26 October 1997, the morning after the second dinner party. The toxicology reports showed high levels of heroin and Rohypnol in his body.

Witness Ross Manley claimed that Singh bought further heroin from Manley's friend on the morning of 26 October. Singh called an ambulance for Cinque at 12:10pm on 26 October, and the ambulance officers found that he had had a cardiac arrest. She made it difficult for the ambulance to respond quickly, giving false information about where she lived. Singh told police at the scene that she had administered drugs to Cinque. Police reported that when they arrived at the scene, Singh was hysterical and struggled with police and ambulance officers when they took her away from Cinque's body.

Trial and imprisonment

Singh first appeared in court on 28 October 1997 charged with murder. She had told police that she had injected Cinque with heroin so that he would not interfere with a suicide attempt. Madhavi Rao was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and released on bail on 5 November. The prosecutor noted that both Singh and Rao had been indiscreet about their actions. Singh applied for bail in December, and a psychiatrist presented evidence of a personality disorder.

Singh and Rao were tried jointly in October and November 1998, but this trial was aborted on 11 November, with Justice Ken Crispin saying that one of the pieces of evidence was problematic as it was unclear as to which of Singh or Rao it was admissible against. For her second trial, Singh elected to stand trial by judge alone, forgoing a jury. Crispin J ruled that Singh and Rao had to have separate trials in the interest of fairness.

In her 1999 trial, Singh's defence presented evidence that Singh was mentally ill and had diminished responsibility. The prosecutors called an expert witness to testify that Singh had appeared rational and assertive on the night she was arrested. On 23 April Crispin J found Singh not guilty of murder due to diminished responsibility, but guilty of manslaughter. On 24 June she was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with four years of non-parole period, including the time she had served since 1997. Cinque's mother was deeply unhappy with the short sentence.

Madhavi Rao's trial

Rao was tried separately in late 1999 on charges of murder, manslaughter, attempted murder and administering a stupefying drug. On 10 December Rao was found not guilty of all charges against her. Crispin J found that there was reasonable doubt that she had assisted in the attempt and rejected the prosecutor's argument that Rao had a legal duty of care to Cinque. As of 2004 Rao was married and no longer lived in Australia.

In literature

Singh's actions have been the subject of fiction and non-fiction in Australia. Helen Garner's book Joe Cinque's Consolation, published 2004, was a widely publicised account of Singh's crime and trial, together with the Cinque family's response to it. Singh's actions were also the inspiration for a play, Criminology by Tom Wright and Lally Katz, performed at Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre in August 2007.

After release

Singh was released on parole in October 2001, but returned to jail in April 2004 after breaching her parole conditions by smoking marijuana. She was released on 5 August 2004, in the same month that Joe Cinque's Consolation was published, after challenging her re-imprisonment on a technicality.

Singh gave interviews shortly after the release of the book, recounting her own memories of the killing and expressing regret at not agreeing to an interview by Garner. She told interviewers that she wished to redress some of the book's imbalance towards her.

Singh has completed a masters in criminology at Sydney University, having attended classes on day release from Emu Plains Correctional Centre.

In June 2005, concern was expressed in the New South Wales Parliament about Singh's employment with the Cabramatta Community Centre. The public were reassured that Singh was not employed to distribute clean injecting equipment and that her employment was on a time-limited project. In 2005, a documentary was being made about Singh by James Ricketson which covered her employment in Cabramatta. The documentary was reportedly to be called Atonement.

Singh is now writing her PhD thesis at the University of Sydney on Offending Women - Toward a Greater Understanding of Female Criminality.


Killer's uni thesis on why she did it

December 12, 2010

ANU Singh, the university student who killed her boyfriend with a lethal dose of heroin, is writing a PhD thesis on women who commit crimes. Law graduate Ms Singh, 38, was convicted of manslaughter over the death of her boyfriend, Joe Cinque, in 1997.

After a dinner party at their Canberra flat, she sedated him with Rohypnol, injected him with heroin and watched as he vomited blood and died in their bed. She served four years for Mr Cinque's manslaughter.

Her research project at the University of Sydney, Offending Women - Toward A Greater Understanding Of Female Criminality, is listed on the university's website under current research projects.

Ms Singh's project is being supervised by two leading legal minds, Professor Julie Stubbs from the University of NSW and Associate Professor Gail Mason from the University of Sydney.

Neither Ms Stubbs nor Ms Mason would comment on the content of Ms Singh's project.

It is believed Ms Singh will examine her own involvement in the death of Mr Cinque in the 100,000-word thesis.

Ms Singh has previously told the media that drugging Mr Cinque then injecting him with heroin was "like doing a university assignment".

But Mr Cinque's parents, Italian immigrants Nino and Maria Cinque, said Ms Singh's research project was a desperate attempt to grab media attention.

"This is another way to put herself in the paper," Mrs Cinque said. "It's another way to make herself noticed.

"She says she wants to help people, but that is rubbish.

"She should get a job and start repaying society for all the money they spent on her."

Mrs Cinque said she would never forgive Ms Singh.

"It's been 13 years but, for me, it feels like it (her son's death) happened yesterday," she said. "Now it's Christmas and I have no son and no grandchildren.

"By this time, he would have got married to a nice girl and had a family.

"She took everything away for no reason."

Days before Mr Cinque died, Ms Singh told friends she was going to kill him and she held two send-off dinner parties.

He died on the morning after the second dinner party. She pleaded not guilty to murder.

The Sunday Telegraph repeatedly tried to contact Ms Singh to discuss her research, but she did not return calls. Ms Singh now lives in Sydney with her parents.


Her new career's to die for

By Miranda Devine -

June 5, 2005

When you talk to the mother of Joe Cinque, killed at 26 for no reason by his girlfriend, there is such weariness in her voice.

"You learn to survive, eight years and you keep going," Maria Cinque said on Friday.

"But you never forget your son. It's always there. I see his friends with children now. I think that could have been my son."

Anu Singh, the spoilt daughter of two Indian doctors from Strathfield, served just four years of a 10-year sentence for the cold-blooded killing of Cinque, the handsome first-born engineer son of Italian immigrants Maria and Nino.

The judge believed Singh's story, that she was suffering diminished responsibility due to mental illness, and convicted her of manslaughter, in a case immortalised by author Helen Garner in her best-selling book Joe Cinque's Consolation.

Singh, 33, killed Cinque, who had never touched drugs, by sedating him with Rohypnol in his coffee and then injecting him with heroin in the Canberra flat they shared.

It took him 36 hours to die in their bed, vomiting blood while she watched.

While in jail, she finished her law degree and a masters degree in criminology with a thesis on the causes of female crime. She used to attend classes at the University of Sydney on day release from the minimum security Emu Plains women's prison.

Now she is back in the news, starring in a coming documentary all about her, and with a new job at the Cabramatta Community Centre, conducting research and handing out syringes to addicts from the local needle exchange bus.

"I think it's a joke. It's the last job in the world she should have," said Maria Cinque, from her home near Newcastle. "It just makes us angrier. You don't want to see her face, smiling like she has no care in the world."

Ken Marslew, founder of victim support group Enough is Enough, says Singh showed up at his office last year with documentary maker James Ricketson in tow, claiming she wanted to help prison inmates.

"She was intelligent, articulate. I said if you're genuinely here to help people, great. But if you're just about making a film, I don't want a bar of it." Marslew never heard from her again.

Later Channel Seven called to see if the Cinque family would be interested in a "restorative justice" meeting with Singh, presumably all on camera. Marslew wrote to Maria and Nino Cinque, but they never answered.

Maria is not interested in an apology from the woman who killed her son.

"She's manipulative and very selfish," she said of Singh.

The Cinques have refused to have anything to do with Singh's documentary and Maria says she is sick of being pestered by Ricketson.

Singh, meanwhile, basks in the celebrity of Garner's book, initially telling interviewers, falsely, that the author never tried to contact her, and then admitting that she did.

Her pathological self-obsession shines out in every utterance. During her 1999 trial in Canberra, letters to her family and friends emerged. "I had the perfect life," she wrote. "Attractive, money, law career, everything. Now, nothing, because of my utter, utter stupidity. I bet everyone is laughing at me now."

In an interview in her parents' living room last year, she told Radio National's Phillip Adams: "It's a terrible situation having to face the demon, essentially. It's taken me a long time to even come to grips with what happened . . . and even to this day I still grapple with the many whys." Doesn't your heart bleed.

She told interviewer Susan Wyndham last year she objected to Garner's book because, "it seems to perpetuate this notion that people who commit crimes are bad, are evil.

"It furthers this 'us versus them' mentality." Fancy that.

Out of her mouth it all comes, her detached recollections, her banal theories on crime, her desire to practise law, particularly "criminal law, human rights, jurisprudence". And yet there is not a skerrick of remorse for Joe Cinque or his parents. It's all about her. She can't explain why she killed him because there is no explanation, except, as she told Wyndham, "it was like doing a university assignment".

Maria Cinque described her simply as evil.

It's hard to say which is more revolting: that Singh has a job giving needles to addicts or that she will star in a documentary which purports to tell her side of the story. What side of the story is there to tell?

The result speaks for itself. A blameless young man dead eight years and his parents and younger brother ravaged by grief.

Oh brother! How low can you go?

How ridiculous that a beer named Shag is to be banned because its name might offend people, and yet Channel Ten airs footage of erect penises, live sex, racism and scenes so obnoxious they border on sexual assault.

That's not to mention the gross bad taste of the rest of Big Brother, with its housemates' endless farting, burping, swearing, use of the word "nigger" and inane chatter about bodily functions.

Unlike previous series, there is nothing to like about the current crop of reality "stars".

Last week one charmer pulled out his penis and started rubbing it against the neck of an unsuspecting female housemate who wondered why everyone around her was laughing. When she cottoned on to the joke she was disgusted.

As The Sydney Morning Herald's Spike column revealed last week, 33,720 children aged 12 and under watched the 9.30pm episode, as did 85,070 viewers aged 13 to 17.

What a great way of teaching boys how to treat girls. No wonder the ratings are slipping. Even Big Brother fans have taste.

A broken promise

In the Bega Valley on the Princes Highway, near the rural town of Quaama, sits a brand-new building, freshly carpeted, purpose-built with six beds to give respite care to profoundly disabled children and young people who would otherwise be stuck in nursing homes.

But Nardy House, which sits on two hectares donated by the Hilton family 11 years ago, remains empty, because, having spent the money to build it, the NSW Government won't provide recurrent funding to run it, despite a promise in 2000 by then Community Services Minister Faye Lo Po.

This absurd situation, say Nardy House committee volunteers, is the result of State Government attempts to offload care of severely disabled young people to the Commonwealth by consigning them to federally funded nursing homes intended for the elderly.

Denise Redmond, Bega High teacher and Nardy House project manager, says the rural community has injected $400,000 of its own money into the project, which is sorely needed by about 45 people in the district.

"And all that happens is we get kicked in the teeth . . .There is nowhere for these kids to go except nursing homes. Then they stiffen and can't use their wheelchairs and that's the end of them."

If the Government wasn't going to fund the operation, why did it spend $430,000 on the specialised building?


On death and madness

August 9, 2004

Anu Singh compares killing her boyfriend with completing a university assignment. Susan Wyndham reports.

It is almost seven years since Anu Singh killed her boyfriend with a massive dose of heroin, five years since she was convicted of manslaughter, and a few days since her latest release from jail coincided with the launch of Joe Cinque's Consolation, a book by Helen Garner that puts her back in the dock of public opinion.

After reading Garner's portrayal of a mysterious, disturbed woman who methodically killed the man she loved, it is strange to sit opposite Singh in her parents' Strathfield living room.

A carved wooden sofa wraps around the slight figure in jeans and heavy boots, the remnants of her vanity in the dark hair tinged with bronze, the eyebrows plucked into amazement.

She is bright and opinionated, giggly and tearful as she retells the terrible story and talks about her transformation in jail, where she met her new boyfriend and the "beautiful women" she wants to help.

Garner almost abandoned her unwritten book several years ago because Singh and her friend Madhavi Rao, both originally charged with murdering Cinque, would not agree to interviews. In the end Garner pressed on, using coverage of the trials, interviews with the victim's family and her own philosophical questioning of the law and human nature to create a book that is personal, passionate and openly biased towards the suffering of the dead man and his parents.

Singh, 31, served four years in jail, backdated to her arrest in 1997 and was released in October 2001. She was returned to jail in April after breaching her parole by smoking marijuana. With her legal knowledge, she questioned the grounds of the decision and is at her parents' home waiting to hear this week whether she will remain free.

Now she says that if she had known Garner was going ahead with her book she would have been keen to speak to her and answer the questions about remorse, repentance and atonement she raises in print.

"I still grapple with the whys," she says of Cinque's death. "It's really difficult seven years down the track, not being mentally ill, to go back to that state of mind and grapple with what I was going through.

"But with hindsight I can recognise what I was thinking and think, how could you even have thought that? For instance, paranoid thoughts: the delusion I was under that Joe was in some way to blame for everything that was going wrong in my life."

Singh had not finished reading Garner's book when we met but she largely accepts the factual account of her crime as given in court and reconstructed in the book. She differs, however, with Garner's insistence that, despite evidence of psychiatric problems, she was responsible for her crime and it should have been called murder.

"I have a huge amount of respect for Helen and I'm a fan of her work," says Singh. "I think it was an extremely noble effort to get the Cinques' side out because she's right: they're not represented in court; they don't get to have their say. But after meeting the Cinques I don't know if Helen really wanted to meet me, to be honest.

"The unfortunate thing about her book is that it seems to perpetuate this notion that people who commit crimes are bad, are evil. It furthers this 'us versus them' mentality.

"There was an amazing opportunity to be able to illuminate why things occur. To downplay the mental health stuff is a real shame considering so many girls are in jail for that very reason."

Singh was a law student at the Australian National University in 1997, living in Canberra with Cinque, an engineer. But she was unwell, suffering from welts on her skin, crawling sensations, agitation and other symptoms doctors and tests could not diagnose. She was convinced she had a muscle-wasting disease and began to blame Cinque for telling her about ipecac, a vomit-inducing drug she took to lose weight.

Desperately thin, Singh was angered by any suggestion that her problems had a psychological cause. She argues now that she was in a deep depression for about two years, had the eating disorder bulimia and was taking recreational drugs and tranquillisers that might have worsened her mental state.

The causes, she says, probably included a chemical imbalance and a distressing break-up with her previous boyfriend. As the Australian-born daughter of two Indian doctors, she had always rebelled against having less social freedom than her brothers but met the expectation to do well, aiming to be a wealthy corporate lawyer.

Despite academic success and all her advantages, she had sunk into feeling worthless. She started skipping classes, avoiding friends and limiting her social life to Joe and their families.

"Joe was an amazing man. We had a good relationship. We fought like everyone does. Because I was so pathetic he would get angry with me in the sense of, 'Where have you gone? Why don't you get out of bed? Why are you walking round the house in that old tracksuit? When I met you, you used to wear this, we used to do this?'

"If he'd get angry I would then think, 'It's because of you I'm like this'. That sort of f---ed-up thinking."

Singh says Cinque hit or pushed her several times because she was driving him mad, but she did not consider herself abused. She never thought of simply leaving Cinque because she was dependent on him. Instead she talked to friends about her suicidal feelings and, to some, about a plan either to sedate Cinque so he couldn't stop her or to kill him, too.

"You'd be amazed at how many people I spoke to who had seriously contemplated suicide. Most people said, 'I sort of understand how you feel and if you want to do it you should.' Everyone I spoke to was well aware I was physically unwell, which is what I thought, so if someone has a degenerative illness would it be better dying than living like this?"

Her closest friend, the quiet and spiritual Madhavi Rao, helped Singh to buy Rohypnol and heroin and organise two "send-off" dinner parties. After the second, Singh drugged Cinque's coffee and injected him with heroin. As he died slowly in their bed, she was "in some different land, some sort of fantasy dream world, a dissociated state, not even considering the ramifications, not really thinking about death".

She can't remember how she spent Saturday night and Sunday morning. Did she drive around, she wonders, remembering a conversation with a petrol station attendant. Finally, next morning she began to panic and rang a friend who urged her to call an ambulance. But it was too late.

"There was a lot of talk about my state of mind that night in the psychiatric reports and what one psychiatrist, Dr Diamond, said rang true for me. Seeing Joe having difficulties was like a reality check that snapped me out of some level of dissociation.

"I remember telling someone it was like doing a university assignment, which is a terrible thing to say. In my state of patheticness, this is something I can do; this is a purpose."

In the months before she killed Cinque, Singh's parents knew she was sick and possibly suicidal. The bluff, talkative Paddy Singh and his wife, Surinder, say they took her to doctors and a psychiatrist who recommended psychotic drugs but she refused because they would make her fat.

They tried to have her hospitalised but found it would take a tribunal decision to do so. They wish Rao, or someone, had told them about the suicide-murder plan before they got a call from the police. They feel deep sympathy for Cinque's parents, Maria and Nino, but urge their daughter to move on with her life. They pay for her psychiatric treatment and she remains on the antidepressant Zoloft.

Rao was exonerated of any crime and is now married and living overseas. In Garner's view, she too had responsibility for Cinque's death and a debt to pay. But Singh says: "It's my fault entirely. I was hysterical and she just loved me and wanted to help me. What would sending her to jail have really done? Would it have eased Maria and Nino's pain any more? It seems it's perpetuating sorrow on so many people. Her family would have suffered as my family suffered. I don't put any blame on Madhavi."

Garner wrote twice to Singh while she was in jail, asking whether she would be interviewed for a book. Singh replied that she did not want to do so now but would in the future.

Garner wrote again in March 2002, a few months after Singh's release on parole. Singh does not remember getting that letter, though her brother recalled some mention of it. Whatever the reason, she did not reply. Garner had been burnt by her failed efforts to interview two women law students for her previous book, The First Stone, and decided there was no point pursuing a reluctant Singh.

During her time in jail and since, Singh completed a masters in criminology at Sydney University with a thesis on the causes of female crime, including abuse, mental illness and drug use. She met her present boyfriend, a former heroin addict and thief, in the remand centre after her arrest, when he wrote her letters of support. Having given up her earlier "superficial" goals, she plans to begin a PhD next year and is working with a filmmaker, James Ricketson, on a documentary about her story.

Ricketson believes that Garner's book is unfairly one-sided and that she should have made more effort to include Singh. Garner has refused his requests to appear in his film but says, "I've purposely left the question of her remorse wide open. There's no way I would have closed off that possibility without having spoken to her. That would be so impertinent and wrong. It would fly in the face of everything I believe in. Nothing would please me more than to know her version of the story - I'm very glad she's found a way to start telling it."

Singh hopes her work with women in custody is a way of helping to repair the "rent in the social fabric" that Garner says she caused. She believes no amount of time she could spend in jail would make amends to the Cinques but she would like to join a restorative justice program so that she could meet them and try to explain what happened.

But, she can see, "there's no legitimate explanation to be made".


Anu Singh
(Photo by Tamara Dean)


Anu Singh with her boyfriend Joe Cinque.


The victim

Joe Cinque, 26.



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