Having already served more than three years in jail as an undertrial, Maria Susairaj may be immediately set free or given bail as the maximum punishment for destruction of evidence is three years. On the other hand Emile Jerome Mathew might be looking at a life sentence, the maximum penalty for culpable homicide.
A Mumbai court on Thursday held the former naval officer guilty of culpable homicide of television producer Neeraj Grover and his actress girlfriend Maria Monica Susairaj responsible for destroying evidence in the sensational 2008 killing in the city.Holding Emile Jerome Mathew guilty of homicide, sessions Judge MW Chandwani ruled it did not amount to murder. He will pronounce the sentences om Friday.
After the conviction, Susairaj's lawyer and the prosecution announced that they would challenge the verdict in a higher court. Mathew's lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan said he would decide on the issue after the sentencing of his client.
The maximum sentence for culpable homicide is life imprisonment, Khan said.
Susairaj's lawyer Sharif Sheikh said that he would challenge the verdict which held her guilty of destroying evidence.
Reacting to the verdict, Grover's parents Amarnath and Neelam Grover said in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur that they were "disappointed by the ruling" and expected a death sentence for both the accused.
Judge Chandwani, while pronouncing the verdict, observed that Mathew acted on the spur of the moment and there was no pre-meditation to kill Grover.
In one of the most gruesome crimes of passion in recent times, Grover was killed by Mathew May 7, 2008, when he found him naked in Susairaj's apartment in Dheeraj Solitaire building in the northwest suburb of Malad.