officer Jerome Mathew was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the
2008 murder of TV executive Neeraj Grover for allegedly having an
affair with his girlfriend Maria Monica Susairaj. The actress got
a three-year term for destroying evidence, but would walk free for
time done as an undertrial.
Mathew and Susairaj were sentenced by a Mumbai court Friday and
ordered to pay Rs.100,000 and Rs.50,000 respectively, to the
victim's family as compensation, said advocate Sharif Sheikh, the
counsel for the Kannada actress.
"Susairaj has already served more than three years as an
undertrial. If she manages to pay up the compensation amount
today, then she will be set free by evening," Sheikh told
reporters shortly after the verdict.
On Thursday, Sessions Judge M.W. Chandwani held Mathew guilty of
culpable homicide not amounting to murder and guilty of destroying
evidence. Susairaj was also found guilty of destroying evidence.
Mathew and Susairaj remained calm and composed as the verdict was
pronounced, their lawyers said.
"Susairaj had maintained total silence throughout the trial...
today, she just said 'Thank you' to me," Sheikh said.
Grover, a producer working with a private television company, was
killed by Mathew early morning of May 7, 2008, after he found him
naked in Mariah's apartment in Dheeraj Solitaire building here.
According to prosecution, an angry Mathew abused and assaulted
Grover and stabbed him with a kitchen knife.
Mathew kept kicking and stabbing Grover even as Susairaj watched
in horror but did not shout for help.
The next morning, Susairaj went to a mall and bought a huge
suitcase, air-fresheners, plastic bags and bedsheets.
Mathew and Susairaj chopped Grover's body into pieces and stuffed
it into the bag, along with the blood-stained bedsheets and
curtains in her home.
Later, Susairaj and Mathew drove off to Manor, in adjoining Thane
district, and burnt the body pieces and other articles.
Though the prosecution fought for charges of murder, the court
ruled that the case could be made out only under Section 304,
guilty of homicide not amounting to murder, against Mathew.
Mathew's lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan argued before the court that his
client was a young naval officer and wanted to go back and serve
Moreover, he said the crime was not intentional and was done on
the spur of the moment after seeing a stranger spending the night
with his prospective wife.
Susairaj's lawyer, pleading for leniency, said that she was young
and unmarried, and needed to settle in life. He said Susairaj was
not a habitual offender and was a victim of circumstances.
Both Sheikh and Khan said that finally it was Susairaj's
confession before the court which proved significant in the
Prosecution counsel R.V. Kini said the state would appeal against
the judgement in the Bombay High Court.
Sheikh also said he would appeal against the verdict to "remove
the stigma" on Susairaj, and Khan indicated he may consider appeal
after getting a copy of the judgement next week.