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Murder of woman: two found guilty

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CONVICTED: Ajay Johns (left) and Vimal Raj being brought out of the court in Kollam on Thursday after they were found guilty of murder.
CONVICTED: Ajay Johns (left) and Vimal Raj being brought out of the court in Kollam on Thursday after they were found guilty of murder.

Staff Reporter

KOLLAM: First Additional District and Sessions Court Judge P. Mohanan on Thursday found two men from Tamil Nadu, arrested by the Kollam East Police at Tuticorin on June 27, 2005, in connection with the murder of a 26-year-old woman at a lodge near the KSRTC bus depot here on June 16, 2005, guilty of the crime.

The court endorsed the prosecution versions of `trust betrayal' and `murder for gain'. Those found guilty were accused number one, Vimal Raj (23) and Ajay Johns (23).

The Judge posted the hearing of sentence to November 21. Special Prosecutor for the case G. Mohanraj said the two men were found guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 364 (abduction for murder), 392 (robbery), 120-B (conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code.

As per the charge-sheet, Indu alias Pechiamma, was found lying dead inside room of the lodge by the police on June 17, 2005. The lodge employees informed the police that two men were with the woman at the time of checking in at 11 a.m. the previous day. Johns, claimed to be her husband and Raj, her brother. They had given a Thirunellveli address at the lodge. The room was found locked from evening on that day and since there was no response from inside even the next day evening, the lodge employees informed the police and the door was broke open.

Preliminary investigations showed the woman was asphyxiated to death. Her face was slashed criss-cross with a blade in order to conceal her identity. Except for the `thali' on her neck, there were no other valuables found. Photos of the woman published by the police in some Tamil newspapers led to her identification by her parents.

Though there were no clues left behind, it was her mobile phone that provided the vital clue for the arrests. Following the arrest, Johns confessed that the woman was in love with him. Thinking that she hailed from a rich background, he feigned love to her. He was a studio employee at Tuticorin. Vimal Raj who operated an STD booth at Tuticorin was his close friend. It was through this booth that both Indu and Johns maintained contact. With an assurance of marriage coming from him, Indu eloped with Johns on June 15, 2005, and Vimal accompanied them. By the time both the men had already decided to kill her and share the valuables and cash.

The Prosecutor told the court that at the lodge in Kollam, Johns tied the `thali' and convinced her that he had married her. Soon afterwards, she was given a heavily drugged soft drink.

When she became unconscious, the duo asphyxiated her with a towel, then slashed her face with a blade and left the room with Rs.6,000 and gold ornaments weighing 35 sovereigns that belonged to her. They then reached Tuticorin and continued with their respective jobs.

Using the details from her mobile phone record, Mr. Rasheed and his team found the bulk of the phone calls to her were from the STD booth. Vimal was taken into custody and questioned. It led the police to Johns and both were arrested. Twenty-eight sovereigns of gold ornaments, which belonged to Indu, were recovered from the duo.

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