A Mumbai sessions court on Friday sentenced former naval officer Emile Jerome Mathew to 10 years of imprisonment in the May 2008 murder of television executive Neeraj Grover. Meanwhile, co-accused Kannada actress and Jerome's girlfriend Maria Monica Susairaj, who was also sentenced for 3 years in jail, technically walked free as she has already spent that time in jail.
Toral Varia, who was present at the court room during the sentencing, brings you the first reactions of the families of the convicted navy officer and the Kannada actress.
After the verdict and sentencing both were announced, as per the customs, Mumbai Sessions Judge Chandwani summoned both Emile Jerome and Maria Monica Susairaj one by one and explained the details of the judgment and sentencing in brief.
While Maria Monica Susairaj was quite, all that Emile asked the judge in a meek voice was, "Can the sentence be reduced?"
Calm but a visibly upset Jerome held his emotions together as he fought back tears while speaking to his father Joseph Jerome.
Dressed in formals and polished shoes, Emile Jerome appeared to be aware of the options before him as he discussed the legalities with his lawyer Wahab Khan.
His father Joseph Jerome, who has been attending hearings on a regular basis, isn't surprised by the verdict. Speaking to mediapersons outside the court room, he said, "In the last three years we were prepared for the outcome and we couldn't have expected anything less than this."
On being asked how Emile's mother is coping with the court's decision, Joseph Jerome said, "She was hopeful that he will be let off, but in the last few days lawyers had informed us that we should be prepared for a high court appeal. We have accepted what has happened, but it has been difficult for a middle class family back home to answer relatives and others who enquired about the case. I wanted my child to be out."
On being asked if it was fair that Maria got a sentence of only 3 years, while Emile has a 10 year sentence, a resigned Joseph Jerome said, "He will have to face the consequence if he has done anything."
While Jerome will still have to serve the remaining term of seven years (of the 10 years he has already spent three years), Maria Monica Susairaj was quite relaxed and somber.
Given that Maria has already served her term of punishment, it's only a matter of time before Maira walks out free.
Maria was seen dishing out instructions to her brother Richar Susairaj and her lawyer Advocate Sharif Sheikh. When asked whether she was happy after the verdict, she said, "I am just blank. How do you expect a convicted person to be happy?"
Maria's brother Richard who was running around trying to finish the legal formalities before the deadline of 4 pm hurriedly told the mediapersons in the court corridor, "We believe in the almighty. We think that he has roles for everyone. We have been preparing for it for 3 years."
Richard said their family stood by Maria all along because "we know her very well what happened is something that only the family knows."
He promised that the family will react in a week or so.