Kannada actress Maria Monica Susairaj, 30, and her fiancé Emile Jerome Mathew, 28, were acquitted on Thursday of the charge of conspiring and murdering media executive Neeraj Grover because of want of convincing evidence.
Though the prosecution claimed that Susairaj and Jerome had hatched an elaborate plot to do away with Grover, it failed to substantiate its charge.
The 26-year-old media executive was killed in flat rented by the Kannada actress in Malad (West) on May 7, 2008. His body parts, partly burnt, were found near Manor in Thane district a fortnight later.
The delayed recovery of the body, the fact that it had been hacked to pieces and that the flat where the crime had taken place had been cleaned and repainted made it tough for the crime branch of the Mumbai police to obtain any strong forensic and medical evidence. The prosecution, therefore, relied primarily on circumstantial evidence.
Confident that the evidence was sufficient to nail the duo, chief public prosecutor Ramnath Kini decided not to rely on Susairaj’s confessional statement in which she admitted that she had helped dispose of the body.
The sessions court accepted parts of her confession, which stated that Grover’s death was a result of an altercation between the victim and her fiancé.
It, however, discarded the conspiracy theory, primarily considering that the weapon used to kill Grover – a kitchen knife - was not brought in by the accused. “Jerome killed Grover; however, his actions were unplanned. It happened in a spur of the moment as he was provoked by his circumstances. It is obvious for a man to lose control if he finds his fiancé with another man,” additional sessions judge MW Chandwani observed. “It is not proved that when Jerome entered Susairaj’s flat, he intended to kill Grover. Further, Grover was stabbed with a kitchen knife, which points to the fact that after Jerome confronted Grover, he lost control and killed him. He never entered the house looking for the murder weapon.”
In the absence of any evidence suggesting common intention or premeditation, Chandwani held Jerome guilty of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Jerome’s counsel Wahab Khan had contended that there was no evidence suggesting Grover was alive when Jerome reached Susairaj’s apartment. The court, however, accepted Susairaj’s statement, and the timeline of the events stated by her.
In her statement, she had said Jerome visited her flat on May 7, got into a fight with Grover and stabbed him to death. Later, they cut up the body and got rid of it.
However, the court rejected her claim that she had helped Jerome get rid of the body under duress, noting that she had enough opportunity to run away.