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From the file

Sweet Bobby | How well do you know the person you love?

Episode 6: Motive
Sweet Bobby

Episode 6: Motive

Episode 6: Motive

In the final episode of Sweet Bobby, Kirat’s case against the catfisher takes an unexpected turn. As Alexi is putting the finishing touches to the series, he gets a phone call that changes everything


Transcript

Kirat Assi: So it’s Thursday and I have just arrived outside the radio station. I was scared as I was leaving and I’m scared now. It’s the first time I’m doing the show since Sweet Bobby went live. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Since the podcast came out, Kirat hasn’t presented her regular show. But for the first time, she’s on her way back to Desi Radio. 

Kirat Assi: I don’t know if people will know what I’ve been through cause I haven’t put anything on my socials very much. Like I have always been private on my socials so.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: And as Kirat is preparing to go back on air, we’re putting together this final episode. It was going to be all about closure. About Kirat getting her life back on track despite everything – including all the tensions and complications within her own Punjabi, Sikh community. 

And it’s still about all that. But, we’ve basically had to rewrite the end of the series, because something new came to light. Something unexpected. 

Just as we were putting together the finishing touches, I get a call from Kirat. And it’s a call that – for the first time – really gave me insight into why Simran did what she did. The closest, I think, I’ve ever gotten. 

Kirat Assi: There was a phrase that she used which bothered me. She honestly believed that we were both in a dark place. And living in this kind of alternative reality of this fantasy world that she’d created was bringing us both some kind of happiness and joy. And then the fact that she has only just realised that it wasn’t any kind of fantasy for me.

I’m Alexi Mostrous, and from Tortoise Media, you’re listening to Sweet Bobby 

Episode 6: Motive.

***

Nilesh: For me, it makes no difference. I know, I know her and I know who she is and I’ve known her since she was little girl. So it makes no difference…

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: That’s Nilesh – a childhood friend of Kirat’s.

Nilesh: …getting an answer. It is what it is. We are just worried about her wellbeing. Does it matter how it happened and how she was gullible at the end of the day? It’s not important. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: He’s reacting to an apology letter. Signed by Simran Bhogal – the person who had catfished Kirat for almost a decade. 

Nilesh: We want her to move on, we want her to be well and find a happy life. That’s what we want more than anything else. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: By 2020, two years had passed since Simran confessed to the monumental deceit. But when Kirat sued her in court – her lawyers came out all guns blazing. 

They accused Kirat of “grooming” her while she was still at school. It’s a pretty astonishing and incendiary allegation. And it was yet another blow for Kirat – after so many years of struggling. Now she was faced with an expensive legal battle. 

But then, suddenly, Simran changed tack. One day in spring this year – 2021 – Simran offered to settle the case. 

Nilesh: And who does she write this to? Directly to you? Or? 

Kirat Assi: So it’s an apology letter. It’s like a formal apology letter to me, and I am allowed to show it to a limited number of people. So I have to tell her who I’m showing it to. So she even knows who I’m showing it to. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: It meant after years of fighting Kirat would finally get a small payout.  And more importantly – Simran agreed to give her a written apology. 

But Simran’s lawyers had one more card to play. The apology came with strings attached. 

Nilesh: So did she send it to the court? 

Kirat Assi: No, it’s a private apology 

Nilesh: Straight to you? 

Kirat Assi: So it comes straight to me and the court knows I’m getting a private apology, but they also know who I’m showing it to. I’m not allowed to say what the contents are to anybody else. No one’s allowed to have a copy of it, make a copy of it. Anything. And I put your name down on the list of people that I want to show it to.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat had wanted a public apology that could be read out in court. 

But Simran would only settle if the apology was private, or at least semi-private. She insisted that Kirat could only show the apology to about 30 people. 

And even worse, none of the people on the agreed list could make any copies of the apology. Or tell anyone else what it said.

When Kirat heard about this, she was furious. It felt like an extension of the control Simran had tried to keep over her. That same dynamic again – Simran, or Bobby, or whoever, calling the shots. 

Kirat argued with her lawyers telling them it just wasn’t good enough. But it wasn’t just this that Kirat was unhappy about. 

She also felt like the wording of it was too vague. So she rewrote it herself, making it more punchy. And Simran agreed to sign this version, but she still insisted that it couldn’t be public. 

Kirat felt deeply uncomfortable about this. But she was told realistically, this might be the best she was going to get. So she agreed to settle on these terms. A semi-private apology that wasn’t even in Simran’s own words. 

But still, this was the only documentary proof that Kirat had of Simran’s guilt. So when Kirat showed it to those closest to her, to some of the pre-agreed list of 30 friends and family. I wanted to be there. 

And to be honest I kind of imagined tears and emotion. But actually that was a miscalculation. Nilesh’s take seemed to be that the apology made no difference either way. He’d support her no matter what. 

All he said was that maybe in future Kirat would be less gullible – maybe learn to ask more questions.

Kirat Assi: But it’s that very perception of you saying gullible that that’s like, for me, it’s a problem. Cause I don’t think I was gullible. She’d gone out of her way to do this to me. And this is the thing, like lots of people think you must have been so gullible, you must be so gullible. And I kept like challenging that and things. It is I mean, Alexi, you’ve been through the evidence. You’ve seen and read like, god knows how many conversations.

But you can see I’m like challenging all the way through I’m arguing. I tried to get away. I tried to get out of the relationship, but I was just emotionally blackmailed into staying into it. But it’s just like that whole perception. And this is the thing, the perception I don’t want people to have of me now is that I’m gullible or I’m vulnerable, because I’ve stood up to her.

***

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I’ve spent a lot of time with Kirat by now. And I know that for her – the details really matter. 

When people like Nilesh tell her to move on, as well intentioned as that is, it’s missing the point. She wants people to understand the details of the scam. To ask questions about how it worked. 

Because the more you understand that, the sophistication of it all, the less you’ll think she’s gullible. And the more you’ll think: shit, maybe this could have happened to me. 

And that all applies to her own family, too. 

Kirat Assi: My dads upstairs. You can probably hear my dad. On the phone constantly. He’s just in denial. I’ve told him, he knows you’re here. 

Alexi Mostrous: Right? 

Kirat Assi: Totally. In denial. It’s so difficult for me in that sense. If my dad’s in denial, can you imagine our community?

Alexi Mostrous: When are you going to show him the letter? 

Kirat Assi: I’ve offered three times it’s sitting there on the top, but yeah, it’s just..

Alexi Mostrous: He doesn’t want to know? 

Kirat Assi: I don’t know what’s going through his head. I don’t know whether he feels ashamed of me, scared of the family. I don’t know. But it’s kind of genuine. I’m guessing it’s the fears that you’d have in our community. But it doesn’t make it easy for me.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat is still struggling to talk about what happened with her own family. She lives with her mum, dad and two younger brothers. 

But since it all was revealed, neither of her parents have really wanted to talk about any of it. And despite Kirat having the apology letter for months, her dad still hasn’t read it. So I really wanted to speak to him. 

And the fact that her dad just doesn’t seem to want to know – I do find this really sad, because I have heard Kirat speak about him with great affection. In the days after Simran’s confession, for instance, he was the person she most wanted to protect her. 

Kirat Assi: So I had to go and tell this other family. Who had been supportive and been talking to him too. I remember at this point I was sitting in their living room trying to explain all of this. And I just felt like a vulnerable little girl again and you just want your dad. I just wanted my dad and my dad was in Kenya, and I knew I couldn’t tell him. Cause I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t know how he’d feel.  

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat’s dad was often away in Kenya for long periods and he wasn’t there when Simran revealed that she was the catfish. 

So, I really wanted to speak to him. To hear his reaction to Simran’s apology. Not just because I wanted this for Kirat, but because I thought it might also give us some clues about how their wider community would treat this story too. 

Alexi Mostrous: Should we go in and see whether we can speak to him?

Kirat Assi: Yeh let’s do it. Lets see. 

Alexi Mostrous: Does he know we are coming?

Kirat Assi: No. 

Alexi Mostrous: Hi Mrs Assi, nice to see you again! 

Mrs Assi: Hello, how are you? 

Alexi Mostrous: Im fine, im fine. 

Mrs Assi: Such cold weather. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Almost as soon as we step into the hallway, the same hallway where Simran confessed three years ago, Kirat’s mum ushers us into the living room and offers us cardamom tea

And just as I’m thinking about how to persuade Kirat’s dad to speak to me, I hear him walk down the stairs. 

Kirat Assi: Hi dad this Alexi, this is Gary. 

Alexi Mostrous: It’s very nice to meet you Mr Assi. Thank you and what a lovely house. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: At this point, we’re all sitting in a circle in Kirat’s living room. Her dad is opposite me looking quite uncomfortable 

Kirat’s sitting next to him, about a metre away, not making much eye contact. She’s on her phone. And her mum is sitting kind of over my shoulder, watching us. 

It’s all quite tense. 

Alexi Mostrous: We don’t want you to speak about anything that you don’t know. It would just be interesting to get your perspective as Kirat’s Dad

Mrs Assi: Have your tea before it gets cold. 

Alexi Mostrous: This is very delicious. 

Mr Assi: Yeah. It’s just very unfortunate that this happened anyway. It shouldn’t happen to anybody. And, uh, I really, I’m sad that it happened. That’s all I can say really. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I thought that if Kirat’s dad was going to do an interview, we’d have a bit of time to prepare. At least enough for Gary, my producer, to get the mics properly set up. But as he started talking – I realised it was now or never.

Mr Assi: I think when on Monday this came into media, I’d just read it on the internet and it is quite baffling to read that. It’s quite shocking as well. And, uh, I went through it and I was aghast, simply aghast. And I think, I can’t even believe that it happened. It should not have happened.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I feel like Kirat’s dad does not want to read the letter. That he thinks he’s got as much information as he needs from what he read online. 

Alexi Mostrous: If you were willing, I think it would be really interesting to see what you thought of the apology letter because I think actually even more than the stuff on the internet, it tells you what has happened. So if Kirat gives it to you, do you mind reading it and telling us what you think?  

Mr Assi: I don’t mind reading it, obviously. I don’t mind reading. Obviously I am her dad anyway so. 

Kirat Assi: But you can’t say what’s in it. 

Alexi Mostrous: Oh yeh you can’t describe what’s in it. 

Mr Assi: So basically even if I read it and whether I have read it or not my confusion would be what I just said to you. It should not have happened. It is sad that this happened. But it should not even happen to anybody else.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: But Kirat passes it to him anyway and while he reads, we wait. 

And I remember the clock ticking in the background, adding to the tension 

Mr Assi: Okay she’s gone through hell basically. It’s over and I hope she gets on with her life. 

Alexi Mostrous: Do you think this will let her get on with her life now? Do you think this is closure? 

Mr Assi: I believe it will sort of calm her down in many ways. It’s something, it’s deeply hurting to her and I’ve been totally oblivious. Believe me. I’ve been totally oblivious. I just explained to you and most of the time I did not know anything about it. Let’s say until I met Amrit and Amrit with her. That is the only time. And at that given time, I was told not to involve myself in any matters.

Alexi Mostrous: This is, ​​you don’t have to answer this, but I have a daughter. And if I imagined that in 20 years time, she had been tricked and scammed in the same way as Kirat has, I would be very upset and angry. And I wonder if you are?

Mr Assi: [sigh] It’s a difficult question to answer. It is upsetting, but over a period of time, lots of things happen from your teens up to the time you get married. There are ups and downs. Agreements between people leaving during university times and things like that. You agree to get married. And then something happens. That is the most upsetting thing in life. But that is upsetting. It doesn’t go out of your mind all your life. I really, I’m sorry for anybody, I’m sorry for Kirat, I’m even sorry for Simran. It shouldn’t have happened. 

Kirat Assi: [interrupts, shouting] What are you sorry for her for? Im sorry, I’m just like, what the hell are you sorry for her for? 

Mr Assi: Look sorry. I’m saying, I’m saying, sorry. It should not have happened.

Kirat Assi: Why are you, why do you feel sorry for her?

Mr Assi: Look because like myself, no. 

Kirat Assi: She has chosen to do this. 

Mr Assi: No, no, listen to me. What I meant. Because she did something wrong. The grandfather is very badly hurt. Okay I’m saying sorry. It should not happen because the grandfather are very decent people. 

Alexi Mostrous: You feel sorry about the situation?

Kirat Assi: To the parents, to the grandfather. Yes. But not Simran

Mrs Assi: For all the situation yeah. Not for Simran.  

Dad: It shouldn’t have happened. Sorry that it’s happened, but it shouldn’t have. It hurts the whole family. It upsets the relationships, you know, you can not get on with life, not as before. That’s why it is upsetting. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Now, I should say, this is obviously a difficult moment for Kirat. And she probably would have reacted just as strongly if anyone had suggested feeling sorry for Simran – not just her dad. And her reaction, this tension, is all bound up, she told me, in a sense of guilt. For letting her family down, for exposing them to hurt. 

Alexi Mostrous: Thank you very much. I mean, that was like, you know, we don’t want to push it, um, at all. We’re just very grateful, very grateful. And we know it’s quite hard

Mr Assi: My last comment is that the parents were very decent. The grandfather is such a decent person. Believe me, honestly, they’re from a decent family. Why this has happened is beyond my understanding. Anyway, it’s totally beyond my understanding. I’ve told, even previously, I’ve told Kirat that I do not know the girl. I do not know Simran. I haven’t talked to her. You can put that in. Kirat’s dad has never talked to this girl. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: When Kirat’s dad finished speaking a lot of stuff fell into place for me. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand the full extent of the scam. 

And you can literally feel, can’t you, how uncomfortable he was. He seemed to be battling with himself, between protecting his daughter on the one hand and not rocking the boat.

On one level, I’m thinking maybe this is understandable. This is an older guy from a community that both experts and Kirat have told me is quite patriarchal, quite traditional. 

Plus, he’s got complex family ties to Simran Bhogal’s family. I mean, Simran’s dad was best man at Kirat’s parents’ wedding. 

Kirat Assi: Why me, its just like why me?

Alexi Mostrous: It’s a huge question.

Kirat Assi: It’s such a huge question. It’s like I don’t understand. 

Alexi Mostrous: I reckon that we’re going to get to the end of this podcast series and never know 

Kirat Assi: I’ve made my peace with not knowing.  

Mr Assi: It’s always difficult to come to a conclusion. Even if you ask Simran, why she did it, she will not give you a, she will not give you an answer why I did it.

Alexi Mostrous: That is a really good point, she might not know herself. 

***

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: The question of Simran’s motivation keeps coming up. Of course it does. It’s pretty much all anyone who I speak to about this show wants to know. 

Why did she do it, and how? Like, the nuts and bolts of it. 

So, a few days ago, a woman who knows Simran got in touch. Through a third party. This woman remembers going on a hen do with Simran just a few years ago. 

And she says that Simran didn’t go out that night, the night of the do, because she apparently had to jump on some business calls to America on Skype.

And this I find particularly interesting, because if what Simran was actually doing was calling Kirat as Bobby. It shows that the scam was taking over her life almost as much as it was taking over Kirat’s. 

While Kirat was fighting Simran in the civil courts, her legal team kept pressing the police to act. Yet by March 2020, almost two years after the confession, the investigation had gone nowhere. 

So just as the pandemic was hitting, Kirat issued a formal complaint. And 13 months later, in April 2021, she finally got a response. 

Kirat Assi: And basically they’ve said there’s nothing to answer for. 

Alexi Mostrous: ​​The conclusion was, because we’ve got the document that they sent back to you, and the conclusion was “while I have absolutely no doubt that you have felt victimised by the events described in your allegation. I can only concur with the behaviour described while morally objectionable does not violate any existing legal statute”.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: The complaint board upheld Hounslow police’s decision to drop the case. They basically said: they did the right thing. Kirat was devastated. 

Amrit Maan: And it was evident that they didn’t listen. They didn’t understand the complexity of the case and that we had the right to appeal to the IOPC, the independent office for police conduct. 

The police just focused on the sexual aspect. They failed to have any regard for the coercive control, the controlling behaviour element. The malicious communications. The harassment. And this 10 year deception. They just did not grasp the case. And that’s shocking. Absolutely shocking.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I’ve seen the document dismissing her complaint. And the only offence it mentions is the Sexual Offence Act. 

The police don’t seem to have considered any other potential crimes. Since this podcast came out, we’ve heard from many other people who’ve been through similar experiences to Kirat. 

People who’ve been tricked for years by catfishers, often with devastating psychological consequences. And all too often the police have refused to engage.

So it really surprised me when, against this pretty bleak backdrop, Kirat phoned me recently with some positive news. The IOPC – the independent body that investigates the police – had looked at Kirat’s case again. 

Kirat had written to them to make one final appeal. She’d actually got Amrit to send it, figuring they might take it more seriously if it came from a solicitor. 

And the IOPC, it found that the police hadn’t properly considered Kirat’s evidence. And the upshot is Hounslow police may have to reconsider their decision to drop the case against Simran. 

Kirat is actually meeting an officer next month to go through everything, including the critical period when Bobby was controlling her. I’m thinking, hopefully this time, Kirat will get more than 20 minutes to explain. 

A few days before this episode was due to come out, I have what’s supposed to be a final conversation with Kirat, and we’re sitting in her bedroom at home. It’s one of the first times when I’ve been able to ask her about the IOPC decision. 

Alexi Mostrous: What do you hope happens now inlight of the IOPC decision? 

Kirat Assi: I hope that everything gets taken seriously. I mean I don’t wish harm on anybody, but she’s got to be accountable and responsible for her behaviour. And if there are laws and if she’s broken a law, she needs to face the consequences of what she has done. And it’s not that I am being nasty here. It’s justice. 

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I know that this might be one of my last chances to ask Kirat some of the questions which had been on my mind throughout making this series. Some questions that I know you’ve been asking as well. 

Alexi Mostrous: I suppose let’s just address the how question because it’s something a lot of people are asking about. I suppose the main question we are getting is how Simran was able to do all those voices. Like how do you think she was able to do it?

Kirat Assi: For me it wasn’t that many voices. It was including her own, which is herself, there was four I think. 

Alexi Mostrous: But how could she compellingly go from a man, to a woman, to Simran without you recognising that?

Kirat Assi: Well Bobby has a different accent and he was obviously not well. That whole thing had been explained to me. And then when you are speaking to someone over a period of two or three years it just kind of normalises itself. You just expect that it’s his voice now. 

The fact that I knew he had lost his voice during the stroke and medics and other people, the medical team had told me had lost his voice, he can’t talk. He can’t move. He’s only got this bit of movement in him left. And even when we were doing those initial calls he couldn’t speak to me. 

So I was getting reports of his voice therapy – he is going to his voice therapy session today. Then, after about almost a year of him having voice therapy and his rehab, he had another stroke and lost it again. So his voice never went back to exactly how it was. He had his accent.

Alexi Mostrous: But you were also speaking to at least one other person, I’m going to get the initials wrong, but maybe YJ.

Kirat Assi: That was right at the end in 2018.

Alexi Mostrous:  Right, but YJ was a man. He hadn’t had any damage to his voice. And Simran was YJ. So what did that voice sound like?

Kirat Assi: Initially he would only call me and cry. It was after his sister was unwell and he’d never called me before. But it was like he would call me and he would hang up and there would be lots of crying and crying and crying. Because his sister was severely unwell and he was leaning on me for support. And I think it was also being used as a distraction technique for me asking Bobby the 60 million questions of what the hell is your problem kind of thing. 

JJ and YJ’s voices came into play so much later. They sounded slightly different, but there was a similarity. Enough for you to think they are from the same family. But I was, I think at that point, I was constantly being shouted at. I was in a really bad place. And that probably clouded my judgement. I did think it – oh but he does sound like him – but you forget because you have been speaking to Bobby for two and a half years with this voice you don’t think like that. You think they are brothers. And I was a state at that point.  

Alexi Mostrous: If Simran is listening to this podcast and listening to this episode, do you have a message for her?

Kirat Assi: You brought this on yourself, but I don’t know if you grasp what you’ve done and how you’ve impacted my life or other people’s lives. Just, I just want you to wake up and understand how many people you’ve upset, including your own family. I’m not accepting the blame for that. I’m not accepting the blame for anything here. I haven’t done anything wrong. 

Alexi Mostrous: What do you think the future looks like? 

Kirat Assi: I don’t know I have no idea. I know what I want it to look like. 

Alexi Mostrous: What do you want it to look like?

Kirat Assi: I’d like to be just like, happy go lucky me. I am. Whether I’m lucky, but I’m just like the happy spirited person that I am. Just be that person without any worry. You know. Move out. Have my own place. Find somebody. If I could have a family, you know, obviously that’s something, a big thing that she’s upset in my life, whether I can or can’t have a family. I don’t know. And just do all the things that I wanted. All those years of where I wanted to travel so much.

And she knew I wanted to travel and do these things. We would plan, you know, we’ve got, me and Bobby had Pinterest boards of holidays and stuff, and, you know, but just because that happened. She’s not allowed to take that away from me. I’m still going to do those things for myself. Even if it wasn’t with Bobby, Bobby wasn’t real.

And I’ve accepted that. And that’s what lets me, I just keep saying that it wasn’t real. It was real to me at the time. But I have accepted that. It’s not real now. I have spoken out now this is now going to be attached to me for the rest of my life. I can’t run away from this. But at the end of the day there is no shame in it. There is no embarrassment in it because if you were in my shoes you probably would have done the same. 

***

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: I thought this was where we were going to end. 

But then, there was that phone call I mentioned at the start. The one that changed this whole final episode. 

Alexi Mostrous: Hey, Kirat, how you doing?

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat had been speaking to her friend about the apology letter. The one that Simran had signed, but didn’t write. The one that she had shown her dad. 

Kirat Assi: And she said, you know, it’s so unemotional and I just remember trying to think of a time when she was emotional. And I suddenly remembered that this had been sent to me as a draft apology, to see if I would accept this. But it was only for my eyes. And it was the most emotional thing from her in any sense.

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat had received another apology letter. Before the one that ended up in the settlement. And this draft apology had been written by Simran herself. 

This one was much more personal. It was written directly to Kirat from Simran, and Simran wanted Kirat to keep it to herself. If Kirat had accepted this letter, a completely private apology, as the basis of her settlement then she could never have shown it to anyone else. 

Instead, she insisted on a version that could be shown to her close friends and family – those 30 pre-agreed people I mentioned earlier. 

So this draft apology, sent in early 2021, kind of got forgotten about. It became just another document in a long list of emails and drafts that Kirat received leading up to the formal settlement. 

Even now, Kirat can’t show us this original, direct apology, for legal reasons. But I did ask her if she could give me the gist of it. 

Because this letter is really important. It’s really the only document Kirat has that gives any real clues about Simran’s motivation. About why she did it. And it’s written in Simran’s own words. 

Alexi Mostrous: ​​I suppose my first question is, do you remember how it started? Like how did she open it? What did she say to you at first?

Kirat Assi: It, you know, it was an emotional letter. And it was all like, she would change everything if she could. And it was all very gushing and I’m sorry for all the hurt and pain I have caused. And all that kind of, what you’d expect somebody to say.

Alexi Mostrous: So she opened it with an apology?

Kirat Assi: I mean, it was sorry for the hurt. 

Alexi Mostrous: I mean, we’ve been thinking, as you know, so much about Simran’s motivation. What made her do it? What made her?

Kirat Assi: I mean it was the same as what she’d said when she’d confessed. That she was in a dark place. Exactly the words that she used when she came home and confessed.  

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Kirat remembers the letter opening with Simran explaining how this whole thing got started. About how she was struggling with things going on in her personal life. She had other issues too.  

And then how she had met Kirat for the first time as a teenager and thought they just clicked. And then how the lies just snowballed out of control.

Alexi Mostrous: What else do you remember the letter saying, I mean, I’m absolutely fascinated because this is the first time that we’ve really heard anything from Simran in her own words about why she did it. 

Kirat Assi: I mean, I was really upset with this letter. She thought I was okay. Some kind of, there was a phrase that she used, which bothered me. She honestly believed we were both in a dark place and living in this alternative reality of this fantasy world that she had created was bringing us both some kind of happiness and joy. And then the fact that she has only just realised that it wasn’t any kind of fantasy for me and it wasn’t bringing me any kind of happiness. I mean, that really sticks out for me. 

Alexi Mostrous: Is there any indication in the letter about why she allowed it to kind of continue? What did she say about allowing it to get to the stage that it did?

Kirat Assi: In the letter she said something along the lines of she had wanted to leave. She tried to end it and the reason that she was so nasty to me and so cruel to me using those characters. She was hoping that I’d leave or I, she’d push me away and I’d just leave and it would be easy for her.

Alexi Mostrous: So was she saying she was purposefully nasty to you. In order to try and make you break up with her with Bobby?

Kirat Assi: Yes. But then Bobby would always have a heart attack or a stroke, and I’d then have to come back in. So I don’t understand. 

Alexi Mostrous: Did the letter say anything about why she didn’t stop it herself?

Kirat Assi: That was her effort I guess. 

Alexi Mostrous: So on the surface of it, if you didn’t know anything about her or the context. The letter itself is a pretty fulsome apology?

Kirat Assi: Yeh I think anybody else reading it would think differently to me. That it’s emotional and heartfelt and that she is really feeling pain. 

Alexi Mostrous: Did you believe that?

Kirat Assi: No. I mean I didn’t think it was genuine at all. It was all about herself. 

Alexi Mostrous: Just explain, why, because as you said on the face of it, it seems like quite a heartfelt apology. So just explain the reasoning about why you thought the opposite?

Kirat Assi: Because she could have sent that to me ages ago. She could have stopped it being filed to court. Why did she only recognise all of this now? Did she not recognise it when she confessed?

***

Alexi Mostrous, narrating: Now – our team is split on this one. I agree with Kirat. If she’s remembering correctly what’s in the letter, then it doesn’t ring true for me at all. 

After all, it came only after months of aggressive tactics from Simran’s lawyers. And Simran knew that it could only ever be seen by Kirat – and no-one else. 

So all the stuff about her being in a dark place, and being sorry, I find it very difficult to believe. And she seems to have had no trouble getting on with her life. 

Whereas Gary and Claudia, they think that maybe the letter does offer an insight into Simran’s psychology. They think that if Simran knew the letter would only be seen by Kirat, maybe she felt like she could reveal more. 

But there’s only one person who can say for sure. And if you’re listening, Simran – we’d still like to hear from you. 

And we’re going to stick with this case whatever happens, not least to see if the police reopen their investigation. Because true justice is yet to come for Kirat. 

There is one thing though that I found out right before recording this final episode. I found out that Simran is no longer in her high-powered job. That at some point between August, and the time this podcast went out, she left.

Now, I don’t know why she’s no longer there. But it does, perhaps, feel like a step forward. Towards some sort of accountability. Towards consequences.

I know that the question of why Simran did what she did is tantalising, but it might not be the most important thing here. Because with or without a clear explanation of motive, Kirat does seem to be on her way to recovery.

She’s still got a whole bunch of issues to work through: financial, professional. But she’s back on her radio show. 

She’s got her supporters – people like Amrit. She’s even been on a few dates. And despite everything that’s happened to her. She’s finally able to start reclaiming her life. 

Kirat Assi: So for me until next time, go well, go safely. Keep smiling, smiling. This is Kirat, signing out. On the Banghra Roadshow. Remember look after yourselves and one another. 

[Desi music plays] 

I think I’m done. Oh I am glad I got the show over today. 


While making the series, Simran’s lawyers gave us this statement on her behalf:

“This matter concerns a family dispute over events that began over a decade ago, when I was a schoolgirl. As far as I am concerned, this is a private family matter that has been resolved, and I strongly object to the numerous unfounded and seriously defamatory accusations that have been made about me, as well as details of private matters that have been shared with the media.”


If you’re enjoying this series, we’d love you to come along to a digital ThinkIn we’re hosting about Sweet Bobby. If you’re new to Tortoise, a ThinkIn is an open discussion we have with our members – it’s a chance to ask questions, air theories and discuss the wider issues. If you’re a fan of Sweet Bobby there might even be some guests you recognise. Book your place.

And remember: if you’ve been catfished yourself and want to get in touch – then please email us, in confidence, at sweetbobby@tortoisemedia.com


credits

Gary Marshall – Producer
Claudia Williams – Assistant producer and additional reporting
Karla Patella – Sound design
Basia Cummings – Executive producer

Next in this file

Bonus episode: Questions and answers

Bonus episode: Questions and answers

Since the series finished, so many listeners have written to Alexi and Kirat with burning questions. In this bonus episode, they sit down in the studio and answer them. What did the Skype voice sound like? Did the catfisher have burner phones? How did the WhatsApp group work?

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