TDoR 2011 / 2010 / October / 25 / Sonia Burgess

Sonia Burgess

Age 63

25 Oct 2010
Kings Cross, London (United Kingdom)
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Sonia Burgess
Sonia Burgess [photo:]

Sonia died after being pushed in front of a train during the evening rush hour at at Kings Cross Underground station in London.

Senthooran Kanagasingham, 35, was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to schizophrenia, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of seven years. At the time of the attack, Kanagasingham had been undergoing gender reassignment surgery and was known as Nina. But during the trial he said he wished to be referred to as a man and by his male name.

Kanagasingham's victim was 63-year-old Sonia Burgess, who lived as a woman with family and friends but was known in professional life as David Burgess, one of the UK's most celebrated immigration lawyers, responsible for landmark judgments in the House of Lords and the European court of human rights.

The court heard Burgess had befriended Kanagasingham and offered her support and financial help, despite worries about her mental state. Kanagasingham wanted to undergo a gender realignment, which her family in Sri Lanka opposed. The pair were returning from seeing Kanagasingham's GP in Cricklewood, north London, when she pushed Burgess under a Piccadilly line train. A note in Kanagasingham's rucksack said she was "broke, depressed and suffering from gender dysphoria".

In his life as David Burgess, Altman told the court, the solicitor had established "an enviable and brilliant reputation" in human rights and immigration law, firstly with his own law firm and then with another firm in Wood Green, north London.

But away from work Burgess lived almost entirely as a woman and was known to family and friends as Sonia. Sonia was "gender-variant", Altman said, and did not wish to have surgery. "Sonia was caring and generous with her time. She was tolerant of others and she habitually helped others with their problems."

On 8th April 2013, Kanagasingham was found dead in his cell with a plastic bag around his head, and hands tied to the bed. At the inquest, nearby prisoners reported hearing cries for help.

Sonia's death was not recorded on the official TDOR list released by Transgender Europe (TGEU).

Report added: 16 Mar 2019. Last updated: 2 Jan 2021

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This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

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