A ‘WEALTHY’ Black Country pensioner accused of killing his 82-year-old wife by battering her has been remanded in custody by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.

Pargan Singh Bhandal, aged 82, of Trehernes Drive, Pedmore, Stourbridge, appeared at the court for a preliminary hearing charged with the murder of his wife Gian Kaur Bhandal on January 22 or 23.

Bhandal, standing in the dock with the aid of crutches, confirmed his name and date of birth and, through a Punjabi interpreter, gave his nationality as ‘British Indian.’

During a hearing in the magistrates’ court last week, prosecutor Baldev Singh Atwal outlined: “At 11.13 on the morning of the 23rd of January, West Midlands Ambulance Service received a 999 call from Bhandal’s son reporting the discovery of his deceased mother in the bedroom at the address.”

After paramedics attended at 2.05 that afternoon they conducted enquiries during which it was said that Mrs Bhandal had been dead at 8.30.

The apparent discrepancy in times led to the police being informed – and a pathologist’s examination disclosed that she had suffered a fractured sternum, a broken arm and several broken ribs, it was alleged.

It was said by family members that she had fallen, but following an investigation, Bhandal was charged with her murder.

Peter Grieves-Smith, prosecuting in the crown court, said that, although no application was being made, the prosecution would object to Bhandal, who he described as ‘a wealthy man,’ being granted bail.

Nick Devine, defending, responded: “He is a man of means, but I can’t say he is wealthy.”

But in relation to bail, he confirmed: “There is no application today, but there may well be one in due course.”

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC questioned why the case had been heard by magistrates in Leamington and therefore sent to Warwick Crown Court, rather than having been dealt with more locally.

Mr Devine explained that Bhandal has mobility issues, and neither Stourbridge nor Wolverhampton magistrates’ courts were classed as being disability compliant.

Discussing trial dates, Mr Grieves-Smith said that a report by a pathologist specialising in bone injuries would not be ready for four months, which he said was 'a reflection of the number of people who do this work and its complexity.'

And he commented: “The primary issue may not be whether she has those injuries, but when they occurred.”

The judge observed that it was ‘going to be a trial driven by medical evidence,’ but the problem if the case remained at Warwick was the availability of a judge to hear the trial.

Following a discussion with the court’s listing officer, Judge Lockhart set a date provisional trial date of July 6.

Adjourning the case for a plea and trial preparation hearing next month, Judge Lockhart told Bhandal, who struggled to his feet: “Your case will come back before the court on the 9th of March.

“Your case is provisionally listed before me for trial on the 6th of July. You are remanded in custody. That is the end of your hearing.”