Mukhtiar Panghali listens to the prosecutor during his trial in which he is charged with the murder of his wife. ((CBC))

A Surrey, B.C., man accused of murdering his wife described her as violent and unstable, in a taped police interview played in court Tuesday.

Mukhtiar Panghali, charged with the second-degree murder of Manjit Panghali, made the recorded interview with police the day after he filed a missing persons report in October 2006.

Manjit Panghali's strangled and burnt body was found two days later on a beach in the neighbouring municipality of Delta. She was four months pregnant and the couple had a three-year-old daughter.

On the tape played to the court, Mukhtiar Panghali, 38, was heard speculating on why his wife might have gone missing.

He said he loved her but described the 30-year-old woman as violent, occasonally suicidal and unfaithful. He also said she had many childhood issues, was from an alcoholic family, didn't handle stress well and was emotionally volatile.


Manjit Panghali, seen holding her daughter in this undated photo, went missing in October 2006 and was found dead five days later.

Panghali also said he was twice the size of his wife and when she raged against him, he could have tossed her across the room. But he said that he was determined to stay calm and prevent her from hurting herself.

The Crown argued that the story was a story calculated to cover up the fact that the accused had strangled his wife and waited more than a day to call police. In that time, Panghali disposed of her body and moved her car to try to deflect suspicion away from him, the Crown alleges.

The trial, which began Monday, continues Wednesday before Justice Heather Holmes, who is hearing the case without a jury.

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes and Meera Bains