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Revisiting Royal Park murder

2013 Oct 28

By Aisha Nazim



More than eight years ago, Sri Lanka was shocked by the murder of a 19-year-old girl. Though the country was in the midst of a war and civilian casualties were not unheard of, this particular death sent shockwaves among the Sri Lankan community, especially among the urban elite.



The victim, as well as the perpetrator, Shramantha Jayamaha, also 19-years-old at the time of the murder, were well known among the Colombo upper class circles.



On 1 July 2005, the body of Yvonne Jonsson was discovered by a domestic aide around 9:30 a.m. at the Royal Park luxury apartment complex in Rajagiriya. The aide found Yvonne lying in a pool of what was presumably her own blood, strangled with her own pair of pants. The aide had then immediately informed the manager of the apartment complex about what she had just seen, and both of them had visited the scene once more and identified the body. Manager, Chandrapala Wanasinghe, had called up the Welikada Police immediately after that.



According to reports, the Royal Park CCTV security cameras were dysfunctional and had not been working for several months, also they had covered only the lobby area. Yvonne’s body was discovered at the foot of the staircase on the 19th floor.



The night before 



Yvonne Jonsson and her sister Caroline had gone clubbing the previous night with Caroline’s boyfriend, Shramantha Jayamaha. Incidentally, Shramantha had previously been involved with Yvonne, before he and Caroline had started dating. On the night of the murder, Yvonne and Caroline had left their home around 8:30 p.m. to attend a party. They had picked up Shramantha from his residence in Bagatale Road. After visiting several pubs in the area, they had met up with a family friend, who had also lived in the same apartment complex as Yvonne and Caroline. The group had thereafter proceeded to another pub, where they had spent some time before an argument had ensued between Caroline and Shramantha over Caroline waving at another friend. Following the argument, the group had split; Caroline and her boyfriend had returned to the Royal Park apartment, while Yvonne had stayed on.



According to Shramantha, he had spent close to half an hour with Caroline at her apartment before leaving. He claimed to have taken the stairs as there was no cellphone reception in the elevator and he had wanted to speak to a friend, asking to be picked up. On his way down, he claimed to have seen Yvonne’s half-dressed and strangulated body and went into a state of shock, though he behaved normally when he was eventually picked up by his friend, M. Rilwan.



Making a statement in 2006 before Judge I.M. Abeyratne, Shramantha said he was ‘shocked and terrified’ when he came across Yvonne’s mutilated body and that his mind went blank shortly after that.



What happened after



The police, meanwhile, claimed that Yvonne had returned to Royal Park at around 2:45 a.m., and that the murder had occurred within 45 minutes after that. They believe that Shramantha waited outside the apartment until Yvonne’s return and that an argument had broken out between the two of them after that. The Government Analyst’s report confirmed that the bloodstained fingerprints found on the steel railing of the staircase were Shramantha’s. Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), Dr. M.A. Abeysinghe, further revealed that Yvonne had 48 injuries on her body, of which six were fatal. The JMO report further stated that there were no bruises on Shramantha, which led to the conclusion that he was not assaulted by the girl first, and was not physically provoked.



Following investigations, it was established that Shramantha was indeed the killer. The Colombo High Court issued a sentence of 12 years of rigorous imprisonment, along with a Rs 300,000 fine. However, his family appealed against the sentence, while the Attorney General appealed to Court requesting to enhance the punishment. Ultimately, the Court of Appeal passed thedeath penalty against him.



Dissatisfied with the verdict, Shramantha’s family filed a case in the Supreme Court, requesting to overthrow the decision of the Court of Appeal. However, after more than eight years since the murder of Yvonne Jonsson the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty imposed on Shramantha Jayamaha on Tuesday, 22 October. 

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