KOCHI: Hotel owner Roy J Vayalat and five of his employees who were arrested in connection with the death of two promising models and another person in a car crash on NH bypass near Vyttila were granted bail on Thursday despite the police’s custody application focused on destruction of evidence by them.
In the custody application, the police said ‘No 18 Hotel’ owner Roy destroyed the evidence of giving alcohol or drugs to Miss South India Ansi Kabeer, Miss Kerala 2019 runner-up Anjana Shajan, Mohammad Ashiq and accident survivor Abdul Rahman with an ulterior motive during the night party. In spite of the excise department carrying out a raid on the hotel earlier, liquor was served even after 9pm on October 31.
Roy destroyed the evidence of giving alcohol or drugs on the first floor, second floor or main DJ party hall of the hotel. He gave wrong information to the probe team that he had directed his employees to remove the hard disk containing the CCTV footage of these areas and dump it in Vembanad Lake fearing disrepute to the hotel if it was seized.
The police suspect that the arrested persons were also involved in the offences under Section 66(E) of the IT Act of capturing, publishing or transmitting the image of a private area of a person without consent, under circumstances violating the persons’s privacy. The police application said whether the arrested persons were involved in the offences has to be confirmed after getting their custody. The police said after coming to know of the accident, Roy directed his staff to switch off the CCTV cameras at the hotel. Later, he realised that the DVR storing the CCTV feed from the first floor, second floor and parking area had incriminating footage of the victims.
On his direction, his staffer Anil contacted Melwin who serviced the CCTV cameras. Melwin sent photos of dismantling the DVR and removing the hard disk through WhatsApp. Linson removed the hard disk from the DVR and installed a blank disk in it and Shiju Lal handed the removed disk to Roy. As instructed, Melwin and Vishnu dumped the hard disk in the lake near Roy’s house.
Melwin, Vishnu, Linson, Shiju Lal and Anil were produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Thursday while Roy was examined by the magistrate at Government Medical College Hospital at Kalamassery where he was admitted after his blood pressure dipped. Roy’s counsel told the court that when the police had said that crash happened when Abdul was driving the car under the influence of alcohol, how they could arrest Roy, who runs the hotel with a proper licence.
Similarly, Roy did not compel Rahman to consume alcohol and drive. It was on his own will, Rahman drove the car which met with the accident. The counsel who appeared for the hotel employees submitted that they had no role in the case. They had not even seen the deceased persons.
Dist crime branch to investigate case
Kochi: Following controversies related to the accident death, the investigation has been transferred to the district crime branch. District crime branch SP Biji George will head the probe. Questions were raised against the probe by Palarivattom police following the delay in recording the statement of Abdul Rahman and in recovering CCTV footage from the hotel and questioning owner Roy J Vayalat.