Migrant Chef from Sri Lanka charged for murder in death of Bhutanese woman in Canberra

Update: The name of the deceased Bhutanese woman has been released as Tshewang Choden.

Meanwhile, the main suspect Sou Chef Jude Wijesinghe (29) who is charged with murder has pleaded not guilty.

Wijesinghe had been charged with murder after a bedside hearing at the hospital following the incident.

He was refused bail, and will appear in court on 4 April 2024.

According to social media, Wijesinghe has worked all around Australia as a chef since migrating from Sri Lanka.

According to The Daily Mail the cook’s shocked neighbours said police swarmed an Oaks Estate unit complex around 2pm before spending about eight eight hours scouring Wijesinghe’s unit.

The privately-owned apartment building is comprised of more than two dozen single bedroom units. Residents said Wijesinghe was a ‘good neighbour’.

‘He’s been here about one to two years,’ one resident said. 

‘You’d never know [he would be accused of something like this]. I was horrified.’

Neighbours said as far as they knew Wijesinghe was single and they had never seen any women entering his apartment.

He was sous chef at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, which is part of the National Zoo & Aquarium. 

Photos on his social media show him as a gym and motorcyclist enthusiast.

He also runs a separate online blog account dedicated to his culinary work, which features images of dishes he’s cooked on the job.

Wijesinghe spent a few years studying a cooking course in Melbourne, graduating in 2019 before relocating to Canberra two years later. 

The Canberra police said that they got called around 12:50 pm to the Canberra Zoo commercial kitchen area regarding a disturbance. 

This after some workers heard very loud screams there and headed there. 

The police on arrival were taken to the location where they found the dead body (of the 29-year-old) Bhutanese woman in the store room behind the kitchen. She had stab wounds. 

The 29-year-old man who is the main suspect had done some self harm to himself and was arrested and taken to the hospital where he is stable. 

The knife used to stab the woman was found at the crime scene. 

The police asked anyone with information or background to the incident to call crime stoppers at 1800 333 000.

The police will be conducting a post mortem on the deceased and forensic examination of the crime scene. 

The police informed a family member of the deceased. 

The police said its thoughts are with the family members, friends and coworkers of the deceased. 

The Bhutanese Embassy in Canberra issued a statement on the incident. 

It said, “We can confirm that the deceased individual is a 29-year-old Bhutanese national. A major homicide investigation is now underway and we are unable to share further information until facts are established by the Police. The Embassy is in close contact with the bereaved family of the deceased as well as the Police and providing consular support.”

It said the close-knit Bhutanese community in Canberra is deeply affected by this tragic incident involving a member of our community and is rallying around the bereaved family during this very difficult period. 

“On behalf of the family and our community, we request that the media respect their privacy and allow them space to grieve this extremely tragic and sad loss.”

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