Kollam: Kollam additional sessions court in Kerala pronounced the verdict in the case of an auto rickshaw driver allegedly raping and killing a 16-year-old Punalur girl. The accused Sunilkumar is awarded with life imprisonment of 43 years. He has also been asked by the court to pay Rs 3 lakh as fine. The brutal incident happened on July 29, 2017.

The charges against the accused are murder, sexual abuse of a minor, destroying the evidence, theft and damaging the house. 

On  July 29, 2017, Sunilkumar allegedly entered the victim's house at night and raped her. Later, the auto rickshaw driver killed her and strangled her with a rope. He also took away the ornaments of the girl. 

The victim's parents came to know about the incident the next morning. The crime branch investigated the case. 

Atrocities against children have seen an increase in the state in the last four years, with at least 6,000 POCSO cases still pending trial.

When the police continued to question the father of the victim repeatedly, the distressed locals submitted a request to the chief minister. The investigation in the case progressed only after the interrogations were take up by the Kollam crime branch. 

The accused was identified as the semen found on the minor’s body and dress was matched with the DNA of the driver.