KOCHI: On January 7, 2001, six members of a family, including two children were found brutally murdered in their house near St Mary’s High School in Aluva. The deceased were Augustine 48, owner of Manjooran’s Hardware, Aluva; wife Baby, 43; their children Divya, 16, and Jesmon, 12; Augustine’s mother Clara and his sister Kochurani, 40.
The incident came to light around midnight when Baby’s brother and another relative visited the house around midnight after no one picked up the phone in the daytime.
When the police reached the house, the six were found lying in a pool of blood. According to the postmortem report and other evidence, the police came to the conclusion the murders took place on Saturday night.
As Augustine was known for holding property and money, the police formed a 30-member special team to probe the case. Following a detailed investigation, the police finally zeroed in on the main suspect, identified as Antony who was a close friend of Augustine. Antony who was working as a daily wage driver in Aluva Municipality, however managed to give the police the slip and went to Mumbai on the night of the murder and later fled to Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
The police team tracked down the shop where Antony had sold the gold jewellery he took from the dead bodies. But though the police repeatedly tried to go to Dammam, technical issues and approvals delayed the travel.
Finally, the police used Antony’s wife to make him return. She was asked to convince Antony his presence was needed in the house due to several domestic issues. The police also got in touch with his sponsor at Dammam who also cooperated. Finally, Antony decided to come up to Mumbai. A police team arrested Antony when he reached the Sahar international airport in Mumbai.
A police team which was camping in Mumbai then brought Antony to Karipur airport. He was grilled in custody for several days and with the support of evidence, the police arraigned Antony as the main accused.
While relatives of the accused came forward alleging foul play in the police probe, even the Crime Branch which conducted a reprobe, ascertained Antony as the main accused. Later, based on a High Court directive, a CBI probe was ordered into the murders.
The CBI which probed the murders, also maintained Antony was the main culprit. The trial started in October 2004. In February 2005, the CBI special court convicted Antony and sentenced him to death. The Kerala High Court upheld the conviction.
Though the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order in November 2006, it was later vacated. Even the President of India had rejected his mercy petition. Currently, Antony is lodged in Poojappura central prison.