Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 10 November 2013





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Illicit love affairs end in murder

The busiest crime court in Sri Lanka trying heinous crimes is the High Court. The most conspicuous feature here is that they are flooded with murder cases except that there is a recent trend that child rape and grave child abuse cases too have come up to account for a fairly a big number in the court's calendar for trial cases. In most of the murder cases often women had been the unfortunate victims. Apparently it was some sordid sexual relationship, illicit or otherwise, which had ended in the brutal murder of an unfortunate woman.

I had occasion to hear cases both in the High Court and in the Crime Division of the Court of Appeal where men with the ulterior motive of satisfying their greed for sex pretending to be true lovers had preyed upon innocent young women who had genuinely reciprocated with their love never thinking even for a moment that they had been cheated or taken for a ride.

Kobeigane beauty queen murder is a case in point. There had been cases where young married women with children already separated from their husbands or divorced but finding it difficult to make ends meet hanging on to a man with means to make a living by being his mistress. Weeravila tank murder is a case in point.

There were few cases where young women who had been already married or secretly having another affair hiding that fact offered her love and initiated a clandestine affair with an unsuspecting man and getting killed at his hands when he came to know that he had been deceived or taken for a ride. Kellaniya University murder case (Maduwanthi) is a case in point. All these cases had been reported.

I resurrect these particular cases to show that whatever measures a crime doer may resort to hide a crime it would be just a matter of time for the investigators to resolve it and apprehend the offender.

Beauty Queen

In the Wirawila tank murder case the victim who was dressed in a nurse's uniform when discovered was murdered on January 31, 1956. She was an attractive young woman around 30 years of age. It came to light later that she was a mother of two children. The younger one was a girl of about three years and was found unhurt on the bank of Wirawila tank on January 31 morning. The victim's body was found floating in the tank. Kobaigane victim was murdered on October 25, 1989. She had been in her early twenties, a beautiful village damsel who was crowned beauty queen at a Sinhala New Year festival held at the Kobeigane police station grounds.

The Wirawila tank murder case was a cold and calculated one. By dumping her body in the Wirawila tank the murder was a cold and calculated one. By dumping her body in the Wirawila tank far from her haunts in Matara town the killer thought that her killer would never be found. The killer's thinking seemed to be twofold. Firstly, the victim's dead body will go unidentified, Secondly, even if the body was identified the finding as to the cause of death would be a death due to drowning. The killer was proved right because at the first inquest the body could not be identified and Dr. Dias had expressed the opinion that the death was due to drowning as a result of the congestion of the lungs and exudation of fine froth at the nostrils. And after some desultory inquiries the police had considered it to be a case in which further inquiries were unnecessary. Anyway the body was kept at the hospital mortuary in the hope that it might be identified.

On seeing a photograph of the deceased and the little girl in a news- paper on February 1, 1956 a woman named Babun Nona who lived in Matara town recognised the deceased and the girl as those occupying a room in her house. Thereafter having contacted the Matara Police she proceeded to Hambanthota and the body was identified by Babun Nona as Lilian. A second postmortem was held by Dr. W.D.L. Fernando the Judicial Medical Officer and he was more positive in his view that the protrusion of the tongue and the presence of faeces were more frequent in cases of asphyxia by strangulation than asphyxia by drowning and he thought it unlikely that the woman would have died of drowning unless she was unconscious at the time she was put to water. With the strength of the evidence of an eye witness who had driven the car in which the killer had taken the victim and her child from Matara to the crime scene that night, the prosecution was able to prove that it was a case of murder and also her killer as Sugathadasa. Thus the killer's plans to escape the consequences of his dastardly crime were blown to pieces.

Brutal crime

On the other hand the killer of the damsel in Kobeigane case was sure that once he destroyed the body of the victim taking the advantage of the killings accompanied by burning of unidentified victims during the JVP insurrection time he would escape the consequences of the brutal crime. In fact 1989 was the height of the insurrection where in places such as Embilipitiya hundreds of youths of both sexes disappeared overnight and those cases never came to light and parents still suffer in silence.

The killer after shooting the poor girl and burning her on tyres would have been a happy man thinking that without the body (corpus delicti) and no identification there cannot be a case against him. He knew that the local police will never betray their OIC. In fact the Court of Appeal reprimanded them saying that the illegal activities of the local police had made a concerted endeavour to unlawfully and illegally assist the accused who was continuing to hold the post of officer-in-charge.

Nevertheless his expectations proved wrong. If it is the law that the corpus delicti and its identity should be established by direct evidence it would help criminals to escape with impunity. The acid bath murderer in England, John Heigh who was executed by the English Court would have escaped liability.


The abundance of evidence which had established the accused's relationship with the village damsel Nilanthi, her mother's evidence that she was pregnant at the time of her disappearance and the utterance made by her daughter when she left her in the morning on October 24 to the effect that she was expecting a child in her womb due to ‘the actions of Loku Mahattya and that he wanted to get married to her and not to look after her and if it is possible she would come around 4 o'clock or not come at all'.

To be continued


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