S￼ofia Sam awoke to tragedy. Her husband, and father of her then six-year-old son, was dead next to her in bed at their home in Epping, Vic.
Sam Abraham, 33, had foam coming out of his mouth and Sofia’s distressing wails were heard in the background of the Triple-0 call.
She said she thought he’d had a heart attack. The reality though was far more sinister.
An autopsy quickly discovered the cause of death was actually from cyanide poisoning.
Sam’s death would have been an excruciating and noisy affair, with seizures and convulsions, and it prompted questions about how Sofia could have slept through the whole thing.
Suspicions were aroused but, instead of revealing the apparent murder to Sam’s wife, police kept quiet – choosing instead to watch and wait.
It wasn’t long before undercover investigators were able to piece the puzzle together.
Sofia, who had moved to Australia from India with her husband just three years earlier, was hiding a secret. A secret lover. She’d met Arun Kamalasanan at university years earlier and he’d left his wife and child to move to Melbourne in 2013.
The pair were desperate to be together and just one thing stood in their way – Sam. Now they had a motive, police needed to prove their guilt and started a complex surveillance operation, recording secret meetings between the pair.
An undercover officer also struck up a friendship with Arun, which would later be part of his undoing.
A joint bank account was discovered and just five months after Sam Abraham’s death Sofia transferred his car into Arun’s name. A shared diary where the couple professed their love was also found. I just need to love you ’til my last breath, to help you always be yourself, Arun wrote. I won’t be enjoying my life until I get a life to love with you. Can you hold me tight? I want to drift away in your love, Sofia penned.
And then on another date, more chillingly: Why I am made with rock heart? Why I am so cruel? Why I am so cunning? I – you make me do bad things. Why you made me bad, she wrote.
Much of the sophisticated trap laid by the homicide squad cannot be published for legal reasons, but they did reveal Arun made a confession to an undercover officer, which was recorded.
He admitted to having killed Sam Abraham by putting sleeping pills into an avocado smoothie and then the poison into his orange juice.
Arun was allegedly heard saying: ‘I took that guy off. I went there with the powder, sleeping pills... and I gave it.’
Asked what the powder was, Arun replies: ‘Cyanide... because it works well with orange juice. I mixed orange juice and gave him.’
He denied Sofia had any knowledge of his crime, but police thought that highly unlikely. Almost a year later, the pair were arrested and charged with murder.
In January this year, Arun Kamalasanan, 35, and Sofia Sam, 33, appeared at the Supreme Court of Victoria and pleaded not guilty.
The case was made that Arun slipped into the house drugging the whole family, including Sofia’s son, with sleeping pills. He put Sam’s dose into an avocado smoothie Sofia had made for him just before bed. He then forced the orange juice laced with cyanide down the defenceless Sam’s throat as he slept.
During the trial, the pair denied their relationship was anything but a close friendship.
Arun’s lawyer also argued that his recorded admissions had been made up to try and win approval.
‘He’s like a lonely kid in a playground that tells others his father’s an astronaut in order to be accepted,’ Arun’s defence lawyer told the jury. But it was not enough and on February 21, after a three-week trial, they both were found guilty of murder.
‘This is a very serious example of murder. ‘You were the friend of Mr. Abraham,’ Justice Coghlan concluded.
He told the court Arun had ‘attempted to fabricate a mental illness over a period of three years’ as ‘part of a plan’ to escape culpability if he was ever caught.
As for Sam’s wife, Justice Coghlan said Sofia seemed to show no remorse. He said she was ‘well-educated’ and a religious devotee, but ‘it cannot be said you are remorseful’.
He admitted it was difficult to know exactly what role she played in the murder of her husband, but ‘[your husband] could not have been murdered without your knowledge and acquiescence.
‘I am satisfied that the poison was chosen as your murder weapon in an attempt to avoid detection,’ he said.
In June, Sofia was sentenced to 22 years in jail with a minimum of 18, and Arun got 27 years and was ordered to serve a minimum of 23.
The pair reportedly no longer speak, although Sofia’s son visits his mum regularly in jail and they talk on the phone.
It is he that the judge said was one of the most significant victims of the murder, as he will grow up with no father and his mother in jail.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!, on sale now.