Anu Singh was a promising law student, living in a Canberra townhouse with her loving boyfriend Joe Cinque when she invited friends over for a dinner party unlike any other.
It was 1997, and before friends arrived, she issued them with a chilling warning: "A crime was going to be committed."
None of the guests that night took the threat seriously, but before the night was out, Cinque was unconscious. He had consumed a cup of coffee Singh had spiked with a date-rape drug before injecting him with a large dose of heroin.
She waited 36 hours before calling paramedics, by which time Cinque could not be revived.
When Joe Cinque met Anu Singh on a night out in Newcastle in 1995, the handsome young engineer was immediately taken by the 22-year-old graduate.
Singh eventually moved to Canberra to commence a law degree at the Australian National University, and the couple went long-distance, with Cinque travelling from Newcastle every weekend to be with his girlfriend. And while Cinque was, by all reports, "smitten" by Singh, his increasingly frequent visits seemed to be spurred on by concern for his girlfriend's wellbeing.
Maria and Nino Cinque, Joe's parents, noticed the change in their son and worried his love interest was too unstable for their boy.
In Helen Garner's book Joe Cinque's Consolation, she reports a conversation in which Maria warned her son not to let Singh control him with her constant demands. He pleaded with his mother not to make him choose between them, telling her "I love you, but she needs me".
Eventually, Cinque made the move to Canberra as well, so he could live with Singh fulltime. And while friends say the couple appeared happy at times, Singh's mental state continued to decline.
Tortured, mad or evil?
Anu Singh was plagued by stomach issues, though doctors and specialists were unable to find a cause. She was experimenting with amphetamines, and perhaps as a result of this, would frequently spiral into paranoia, believing things were crawling under her skin. She had dissociative symptoms – she once told her mother she felt as though her head was sitting on top of someone else's body.
She was also obsessed with her physical appearance and had developed bulimia, spending hours in the gym and experimenting with various purging techniques, including the use of ipecac, a vomit-inducing drug. It was this last point that formed the basis of one of the motives put forward by prosecutors at her murder trial. Singh believed the ipecac had caused her physical ailments, and blamed Cinque for being the one who told her about it in a passing conversation.
Another time, according to episode 130 of true crime podcast Casefile, Singh became convinced she had contracted HIV, and told a friend it was unfair that Cinque was unaffected by her disease. She said she planned to put a drop of her "infected" blood on his toothbrush. She also told another friend that she wanted to go on a rampage, killing Cinque, her ex-boyfriend Simon, and all the doctors who she believed had failed to correctly diagnose her. She told the friend: "I've studied psychiatric texts, and it wouldn't be too hard to convince someone that you're insane."
The 'send-off' dinner party
During the months of September and October in 1997, Singh spoke to several friends and acquaintances about wanting to end her own life. After initially deciding to shoot herself, she changed her mind after a conversation with a known drug user on campus about heroin overdose. She purchased half a gram of heroin, and was shown how to shoot up. After this, she returned to purchase another gram. When the drug-dealer asked why she needed so much, Singh replied "someone's coming with me".
On October 24, 1997, Singh organised a dinner party. It was the second she'd thrown in a week – the first having been attended by a range of fellow students who'd heard rumours she planned to kill herself later that evening.
"The … dinner was, I guess, a goodbye party for me, essentially; a suicide party," Singh later told journalist Phillip Adams, "and I don't know how many people knew about that at the time. But I guess essentially a send-off, which sounds a bit bizarre."
No one tried to intervene or seek help for Singh, and when the first party passed without incident, they assumed it had been a bid for attention.
This second dinner party unfolded along much the same lines – unbelievably, with several of the student guests being aware that Singh was planning some sort of "suicide pact", but failing to try to intervene and seek help. Multiple guests later testified they hadn't really thought she was serious about her intentions.
After all the guests went home, Singh crushed up several Rohypnol pills – a known date-rape drug – and slipped them into Cinque's coffee. Over the next 36 hours, she injected him several times with heroin – at one stage leaving to buy more and returning to shoot up her unconscious boyfriend again – before eventually calling paramedics. When she finally did call emergency services, she refused to give them the correct address.
In the intervening day and a half between Singh's dinner party and paramedics being called, she made several phone calls to friends about what she was doing. She told them Cinque was vomiting blood, taking one breath every 10 seconds, and that his lips had turned blue. Once paramedics arrived, it was too late. Cinque couldn't be revived.
Anu Singh stood trial for murder, but was eventually convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter because of diminished responsibility as a result of her mental illness at the time of Cinque's death. She served just four years of her 10-year sentence, using her time behind bars to complete a Masters in Criminology.
She has since written a thesis on female offenders and the causes behind their crimes, which she published a condensed version of as an e-book entitled "Offending Women".