Ex-navy man, starlet sentenced for TV executive’s murder (Lead)

July 1st, 2011 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 1 (IANS) Ex-naval 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 the nation.

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 verdict.

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.

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