‘Always had a smile to give’: Friend speaks fondly of Sri Lanka woman allegedly killed by husband in Singapore

‘Always had a smile to give’: Friend speaks fondly of Sri Lanka woman allegedly killed by husband in Singapore

The Sri Lankan woman who was allegedly murdered by her husband at a hotel in East Coast Road was fondly remembered as “a friend to many and always had kind words and a smile to give”.

Ms Elizabeth Campher wrote about the tragic death of her classmate, Ms Diyawinnage Sewwandi Maduka Kumari, in her LinkedIn post last week.

They were classmates in La Trobe University in Australia, pursuing a master’s degree in Chemical Sciences.

Ms Diyawinnage is said to have been killed by her husband Eshan Tharaka Koottage, also a Sri Lankan, at the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong on Sept 9.

The police had learnt of the crime when Koottage, 30, turned up at the Marine Parade Neighbourhood Police Centre, about 1.5km away, later that day and purportedly confessed to the murder.

Police officers were sent to Koottage’s hotel room where they found Ms Diyawinnage lying motionless with a slash wound. She was pronounced dead by paramedics.

Ms Diyawinnage had been on holiday in Singapore when the tragedy struck, said a spokesman from her university, which is located in Melbourne.

Ms Campher told British tabloid Daily Mail that Ms Diyawinnage had been really excited to go on a holiday with her husband after being apart for more than a year.

The 32-year-old had been studying in Australia while her husband was working in Sri Lanka, said Ms Campher.

In her LinkedIn post, Ms Campher also appealed for donations to help with Ms Diyawinnage’s funeral arrangement.

“As Sewwandi is from Sri Lanka, it will cost her family around A$8,000 (S$7,037) to transport her body from Singapore to Sri Lanka,” she added, calling for people to donate to the GoFundMe campaign.

On Saturday, Ms Campher stopped accepting donations for the fundraising campaign which has raised A$1,480.

Local undertaker Roland Tay told The Straits Times that he offered to cover the expenses of preparing and flying the body home. The body was collected at 1pm on Sept 14 and flown to Colombo that night, he added.

Mr Tay said: “We held a wake for her before sending the body to Changi Airport’s cargo terminal”.

La Trobe University postdoctoral student Jose Jairo Villarreal-Diaz, who taught Ms Diyawinnage, has also taken to LinkedIn to express his disbelief that a fellow international student was the victim of such a tragedy.

Mr Villarreal-Diaz, who is from Colombia, wrote: “Sewwandi was my student and she was one of the sweetest human beings I could ever have in the teaching lab…I can’t describe the sentiment since she was in my class just last week.”

La Trobe University held a memorial for Ms Diyawinnage on Sept 18, according to the Daily Mail.

A university spokesman told ST that the school was deeply saddened by the death of one of its students.

She said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and we have been in regular contact with them, as well as with her student peers and colleagues at La Trobe.

“The university has been providing wellbeing support and other assistance as her family and friends grieve.”

Correction note: In a previous version of this article, the headline and first paragraph said a classmate is raising funds to take Ms Diyawinnage’s body back to Sri Lanka. But local undertaker Roland Tay has confirmed that he offered to cover the expenses of preparing and flying the body home. We are sorry for the error. – The Straits Times/ANN

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