"Don't believe what they say, they are b******s," rang 23-year-old Dhasvanth's voice in the courtroom, minutes after he was sentenced to death for the sexual assault and murder of seven-year-old Hasini.
As reporters looked around stunned, the convict's angry gaze was fixed upon the police and the prosecution. The abuse that was hurled, minutes after the judge left the room, was not his first jibe aimed at those who worked towards proving him guilty.
The techie who has now been held responsible for one of the most brutal crimes the city saw in 2017, was brought to the Chengalpet Mahila court at 11 am on Monday. Surrounded by police, he stepped into the building where his fate was to be decided, with a defiant expression.
Dressed in a blue and white striped shirt and brown pants, Dhasvanth stood with his arms crossed through most of the hearing. A full beard made him almost unrecognisable from pictures that were initially carried by multiple media houses. But irrespective of its unfamiliarity, the face carried no remorse.
He stood patiently as Special judge Velmurugan listed out the six sections under which he was convicted. The charges were proven beyond doubt and they all called for maximum punishment but when asked, Dhasvanth unhesitatingly said, "I want minimum punishment."
As the judge walked out of the courtroom to finalise the quantum to be awarded, Dhasvanth was brought to the back of the room. His father and brother, had both failed to come for the final hearing. After all, he was also accused of murdering his own mother.
An accusation, that his family believes is true. Dhasvanth's father who had fought tooth and nail to obtain bail for him in September, suspended the services of his lawyer after he found his wife bludgeoned to death at their Kundrathur residence days after he brought his son home. Dhasvanth had allegedly murdered his mother in order to make away with jewellery and money in the house.
The convict engaged in casual conversation with the policemen surrounding him. Members of the media meanwhile began talking to the prosecution lawyer Kannadasan who pointed out, through the charge sheet, how sexual assault was confirmed.
It was at this moment that Dhasvanth first burst out, "Don't believe what the prosecution and police say. They are a bunch of idiots."
As angry whispers filled the room over his complete lack of guilt, he requested loudly for a pen and paper. Legal aide centre lawyer Rajkumar politely asked the convict to remain silent but court staff provided him with stationery. Dashvanth soon started scribbling away, even as he waited for the quantum of punishment.
Justice Velmurugan who came back over an hour later, did not immediately sentence him to death. It was first announced that he will serve seven years for kidnapping, 10 years for abduction with intent to assault, seven years for intent to disrobe a woman, and seven years for destroying evidence. He was also to serve 15 years under POCSO. Just as it seemed that 23-year-old may spend his remaining life in prison, the judge awarded a death sentence for the charge of murder of seven-year-old Hasini.
The silence in the courtroom was only broken by the wails of Hasini's father who was informed of the quantum as he waited in the public prosecutor's office. Seconds later, Dhasvanth's first sign of protest came and he began to yell 'Excuse me, excuse me' as the judge gathered his papers and left the courtroom.
But it was already too late.
He directed abuse towards the police and prosecution, even as the public waiting outside began to hail the special judge with slogans for awarding death sentence.
While the convict was escorted away from the courtroom, smiling policemen came down with chocolates. As people gathered to congratulate them, the sound of firecrackers at the entrance of the court added to what had now become a celebration of justice.