Suspect arrested in India over murder of Qld woman

$1m reward to track down suspected killer

The main suspect in the alleged murder of a Cairns woman has been arrested in India.

The body of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley was found in the dunes of Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns, by her father Troy in October 2018 after what police called “a personal and intimate attack”.

The pharmacy worker and animal shelter volunteer had been walking alone with her dog, but had failed to return home.

Earlier in November, Queensland Police offered a $1 million reward to find and former Innisfail nurse Rajwinder Singh, who is the chief suspect in Ms Cordingley’s death.

The reward, the largest in Queensland’s history, was to be paid to anyone, anywhere in the world for Mr Singh’s location and arrest.

Mr Sing, 38, reportedly flew to India in the days after Ms Cordingley’s death. On Friday, Queensland Police confirmed a man had been located and arrested in India.

“We can confirm a man has been arrested in India today following a significant investigation into the tragic death of Toyah Cordingley in Far North Queensland in 2018,” they tweeted on Friday afternoon.

Numerous media outlets say the man is 38-year-old Indian national Mr Singh.

The reward has been widely promoted in India, and Queensland police who speak Hindi and Punjabi have received tips directly through a WhatsApp link.

The huge payout is the tempting equivalent of more than 53 million rupees in Mr Singh’s home country, where the average annual salary is just over three million rupees a year.

Rajwinder Singh at Sydney Airport. Photo: Queensland Police

Earlier this month, an Indian bounty hunter told the Seven Network the huge reward would likely prove “helpful” in tracking down Mr Singh.

“We are expecting someone very close to him will tip-off in the next 30 days,” he said.

In a video statement when the reward was announced, Ms Cordingley’s mother Vanessa Gardiner said she desperately hoped it would help bring her daughter’s killer to justice.

“I can’t believe that it’s a million dollars, but Toyah deserves that, she deserves every bit of it,” Ms Gardiner said.

“I just hope that I get that call very soon to say that they found him.

“To anyone that knows where he is, please turn him in. If he sees it, I wish he would come forward and turn himself in.”

Mr Cordingley said even justice would not bring back the life and future stolen from his daughter.

“She will never get the chance to live, laugh and love. Never get the chance to have children or grandchildren, to grow old,” he said.

“This person is right now living free with no consequences for their terrible crime.

“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.”

In announcing the reward, Detective Acting Superintendent Sonia Smith on Thursday said a dedicated team of detectives from Cairns, Far North and the Homicide Investigation Unit had continued to work tirelessly towards ensuring justice for Ms Cordingley and her family.

“We strongly believe there are people in Australia and overseas who could share information about the whereabouts of Rajwinder Singh,” she said.

Three detectives earlier travelled to India, ready to follow any leads with local authorities.

Australian authorities made an extradition request to Indian authorities for Mr Singh in March 2021. However, the wanted man had not been located until Friday.

Mr Singh lived in Innisfail but is originally from Buttar Kalan, Punjab.

Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said it was the first time an initial reward of $1 million had been offered in Queensland.

“It is critical we capture the attention of an international audience to reach this individual,” she said.

-with AAP

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