KOCHI: Martin Joseph Pulikottil, accused of raping and assaulting a 27-year-old fashion designer after detaining her in a luxury flat in Kochi for nearly a month, was caught on Thursday evening, ending a four-day intensive search by the police. The 33-year-old stock trader was caught from deep inside the forest in Mundoor, Thrissur, with the help of local residents.
The police said he was hiding at Ayyankunnu, a forest area, after escaping from the Kochi flat. “He was moving from one location to another and we caught him with the help of local residents and the Thrissur police,” said an officer with Kochi city police. The officers had combed the forest using drone cameras. The investigation team received information regarding his whereabouts from the three persons who were arrested on Wednesday night.
“The trio left the flat in Kakkanad early Wednesday morning along with Martin. Though we could catch his friends from Mundoor on Wednesday night, Martin managed to escape. We came to know that he took shelter in the forest and combed the area for hours,” said the officer. Martin was brought to Kochi by midnight. “Since the arrest was made on Thursday evening, we have to produce him before the court only by Friday evening. We have enough time to question him.
We have to find the involvement of other persons in the crime,” said the officer. The three persons arrested earlier — Dhanesh, 29, Sreerag, 27, and John Joy, 28, all belonging to Thrissur — shuttled Martin between Thrissur and Kochi frequently to escape the police net. Questioning revealed that they helped Martin by shifting him from one location to another after search was intensified on Monday.
Two-wheeler, three cars used to help Martin flee seized
“They were his intimate friends. They not only provided a hiding place, but arranged transportation facilities as well to escape from the police. Ever since the police issued a lookout notice and the matter hit the headlines, these three have been helping him. They are said to have several safe havens in Thrissur and Kochi,” said C Nagaraju, city police commissioner. The police also seized a two-wheeler and three cars — a BMW, an Innova and a Swift — in which they were travelling.
While Dhanesh helped Martin arrange a flat in Kochi, Sreerag and John took care of his transportation and food. Martin was missing since the woman filed a complaint with the city police on April 8. The police managed to collect the CCTV footage of Martin from an apartment in Kakkanad. “We carried out surprise inspections in several areas in Thrissur district. We have received information that other friends too were helping him during these days,” said a police officer.