Incident

Soumya, a 23-year-old woman commuter of Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train (56608) found in an unconscious state in woods near the Vallathol Nagar Railway Station on February 1 between 9-30 p.m. and 10 p.m. She succumbed to injuries at the Thrissur Government Medical College Hospital on February 6 around 3 p.m.

Investigation

On February 3, the police took into custody Govindachamy, 30, of Virudhachalam in Cuddalore. According to the prosecution, he tried to rob Soumya in the women’s compartment, smashed her head against the wall when she resisted, pushed her hands into the gap of a closing door and threw her out of the train. He jumped out of the speeding train, walked 200 metres to find her lying in a pool of blood. He carried her to woods near the rail track and raped her.

Clinching evidence

DNA evidence of samples collected from the site of the crime and victim’s body compared with suspect’s samples. A button of his shirt was found in the woman's compartment. Traces of his semen were found in the victim’s body and clothes. Her fingernails had traces of his skin cells and blood. Fingernail marks were found on his body.

Accounts of people who saw him in the passenger train and near the Kalamandalam bus stop. Statements by railway guard Joby Scaria, passengers Tomy Devassia and Abdul Shukur and local people.

Cries of a woman heard by a few passengers of the train and people who lived near the Vallathol Nagar station.

Potency test performed on the accused.

Reference in post-mortem report to assault as a cause of death.

Extra-judicial confession of the accused to Dr. Hitesh Shankar of Thrissur Government Medical College Hospital that he had committed the rape.

Soumya's cell phone recovered from Baby Varghese of Wayanad. He had bought it from Manikkan of Wayanad. Govindachamy had sold the phone to Manikkan.

Prosecution’s demand

The case should be considered rarest of rare in the light of scientific and circumstantial evidence. Absence of eyewitnesses should not be a lacuna in awarding maximum punishment “as the man had no qualm of conscience in committing rape and murder together”.

Accused found guilty

The Thrissur Fast Track Track on October 31 pronounced the accused guilty under Sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder), 394 read with 397 (causing injury while committing robbery) and 447 (criminal trespass) of the Indian Penal Code. The court asked the accused 427 questions and recorded statements by 82 of the 154 witnesses. In all, 101 documents and 43 pieces of evidence were furnished against the accused.

Previous convictions of accused

2004: Tindivanam Court sentenced him to imprisonment for three months under Sections 457 and 511 of IPC;

2005: Kadalur Court (for 45 days under Sections 457 and 511 of IPC); Palani Court (for eight months under Section 379 of IPC);

2006: Erode Court (for seven months under Section 379 of IPC);

2007: Tambaram Court (for five months under Section 380 of IPC); Thiruvallur Court (for three months under Section 379 of IPC);

2008: Salem Court (for six months under Section 379 of IPC)

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