MADURAI: A man sentenced to jail on charges of raping a minor girl at Azhagappuram village in Tirunelveli 14 years ago will now walk free with the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) picking holes in the prosecution theory and acquitting the convict giving him the benefit of doubt.
The prosecution had charged that the accused Paul Pazham had in October 2000 sneaked into the hut of the two sisters through the gap between the wall and the thatched roof, while their parents were away, and raped one of the girls. He also gagged her mouth using his shirt.
Hearing the victim’s screams, her sister lit a chimney lamp and used a torch light following which Paul escaped through the same gap. Based on the identification of the girls, the Pangudi police arrested Paul.
In February 2006, the Tirunelveli Mahila Court sentenced him to seven years jail for raping the minor girl and another seven years for trespassing into the victim’s house.
Appealing against the conviction, Paul’s senior counsel V Kathirvelu contended that the prosecution was unsure if there was any consent for sexual relationship between the accused and the girl. Also the prosecution had deliberately concealed that the girl was nearing 16 years to make out a case of rape. Besides, he argued that it was improbable for a person to sneak into the hut through a small gap without being caught.