Attingal twin murder case: Kerala HC commutes death penalty of prime accused

The Kerala High Court on Friday upheld the conviction of an IT professional and his woman colleague-cum-lover for killing her three-year-old daughter and mother-in-law and attempting to murder her husband in 2014, but modified the death sentence given to the man to 25 years imprisonment.
Nino Mathew and Anu Shanthi
Nino Mathew and Anu Shanthi

Kochi | The Kerala High Court on Friday upheld the conviction of an IT professional and his woman colleague-cum-lover for killing her three-year-old daughter and mother-in-law and attempting to murder her husband in 2014, but modified the death sentence given to the man to 25 years imprisonment.

The court upheld the life sentence given to the woman by the trial court in 2016.

A bench of justices P B Suresh Kumar and Johnson John gave separate but concurring judgements upholding the conviction of Nino Mathew and Anu Shanthi by a trial court in 2016.

The bench, however, was of the view that it was a fit case to substitute the death penalty given to Mathew by a sentence of imprisonment for life by fixing a term in excess of 14 years with a direction not to release him before the actual period of the jail term is over.

The court was of the view that based on the Mitigation Investigation Report and the antecedents of Mathew, imposition of death sentence was "not warranted in this case" as he had no criminal past.

The Mitigation Investigation Report had said that Mathew was leading a peaceful and law-abiding life in jail and that he is maintaining cordial relationships with the officials and prisoners and his aged parents and family members have been visiting him in jail at regular intervals.

It had also said that he had no criminal antecedents and that he has the ability to reintegrate into the society.

"Therefore, considering the facts and circumstances, we find that the death sentence for the offence under section 302 (murder) IPC against the appellant/first accused (Mathew) can be converted to imprisonment for life, with a direction that he shall not be released from the prison for a period of 25 years, including the period already undergone...

"...it is made clear that the appellant/first accused shall not be entitled for any remission for a period of 25 years," Justice John said in his judgement.

Concurring with the decision, Justice Kumar in his verdict said, "Having regard to the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, I am unable to hold that this is a case where the society would approve awarding of a death sentence."

The trial court, in 2016, had convicted Mathew and Shanti, both working with an IT company in Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, for various offences under the IPC, including sections 120B (conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 449 (criminal trespassing), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 380 (theft), and section 67A of the IT Act.

According to the prosecution, Mathew and Shanthi were in an extramarital affair and conspired to kill her husband and daughter in order to continue their relationship.

On April 16, 2014, Mathew brutally hacked to death Shanthi's daughter and mother-in-law and waited for her husband to return to the house. He attacked the husband too, but was only able to injure him, the prosecution said.

After going through all the evidence placed on record, the High Court said that the prosecution has adduced clear evidence in this case to arrive at a conclusion that Mathew committed the murder of Shanthi's mother-in-law and daughter and and attempted to kill her husband.

"...there is no reason to interfere with the findings of the trial court as the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the criminal conspiracy and sharing of common intention between accused Nos. 1 (Mathew) and 2 (Shanthi) in committing the crime," the court said.

Justice Johnson also noted a quote by Chanakya -- 'There is no disease so destructive as lust' -- in his judgement and said that an "adulterous and lustful relationship between the two technocrats, betraying their respective spouses, children and parents" resulted in the murders.

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