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The victim, AJ Thomas, had stopped his bike for a routine police check in Panampilly Nagar when the speeding car mowed him to death.

Kidnap attempt by 2-member Kochi gang ends up killing innocent bystander Picture credits: Mathrubhumi news
news Crime Saturday, February 02, 2019 - 15:14

On Tuesday afternoon, AJ Thomas, a 59-year-old musician from Kumbalangi in suburban Kochi, had stopped his bike for a routine police check in Panampilly Nagar, when a speeding car mowed him to death.

What’s even more shocking is that Thomas’s death was not a random accident due to over-speeding, but triggered by a 2-member Kochi gang’s attempt to kidnap Vineeth, a 30-year-old man.

Ernakulam South Police has since arrested Luther Ben (30) and John Paul (33), history-sheeters and residents of Chulikkal in Fort Kochi. The two had allegedly abducted Vineeth, a freelance photographer based in the city. Vineeth was forcibly picked up from a restaurant in Panampilly Nagar on Tuesday morning and robbed of his money. He was then allegedly taken to a lodge and physically assaulted, after which the duo demanded Rs 30,000 more from him.

Threatening to kill him if he did not pay up, the two accused planned to take Vineeth in his car to an unknown location in Fort Kochi, Anil, ASI of Ernakulam South told TNM

It was on their way to Fort Kochi that the accused crossed Panampilly Nagar and had to slow down at the police vehicle check. This is where Thomas, too, had been waiting, Anil added.

“When the car slowed down, Vineeth managed to escape from them and ran out screaming. They accelerated the car to chase and catch Vineeth but ended up running over Thomas, who fell from his bike and straight under the wheels of the car,” the ASI added.

Both Luther Ben and John Paul went absconding following Thomas’s death. However, they were nabbed by a special team of the Ernakulam South police on Wednesday. According to the police, the duo had planned to escape to Palakkad and flee from the cops. However, since the two have a criminal history, the police succeeded in tracking them down with a little help from Vineeth and the CCTV footage.

History of the accused and the current case 

A case has been registered in the Panampilly Nagar station under sections 304 (A) (Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder) 365 (Kidnapping), 392(Robbery), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50), and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

According to the police, both the accused have a criminal background.

“Luther has an attempt to murder case, Kerala Anti-social Activities Prevention Act (KAAPA) and a cheating case registered on his name in Thoppumpady police station while John Paul has an attempt to murder case registered in the Thevara police station,” the ASI told TNM.

Both the accused were remanded to judicial custody on Thursday (January 31).

Motive for the kidnap

In his statement, Vineeth has said that the two accused had attempted to kidnap him due to a year old argument on Facebook over a post by a common friend. The police is currently investigating this claim.

“We do not have much information on this. But Vineeth has stated that the three of them (him, John Paul and Luther Ben) had argued in the comments section of a Facebook post by a common friend. The post has since been deleted and we are probing this further,” the ASI added.

As for AJ Thomas, the 59-year-old was admitted to a city based hospital after suffering grievous injuries to his head and neck. He passed away at 1 am on Wednesday.

(With inputs from Sreedevi Jayarajan) 

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