Kochi: Martin Joseph Pulikkottil, who is accused of sexually and physically assaulting a 27-year-old woman after locking her up at a flat in Kochi for nearly a month, was taken into custody by the police from Thrissur on Thursday evening.
The 26-year-old man, who hails from Thrissur, has been on the run since June 8 after media reports regarding the incident emerged.
The police tracked him down to a forest area near Ayyankunnu village under the Peramangalam police station limits in Thrissur district.
Joseph's hideout was found by a team of the Shadow Police from Thrissur and Kochi, who scoured the area with the help of around 300 local people.
He was be brought to Kochi later on Thursday night.
Tracking Joseph's mobile phone, the police found that he had visited his hometown Mundoor recently.
The police had arrested three people for aiding the accused earlier. Joseph's brother was also taken into custody and was let off after questioning. Four vehicles used by the accused, including a BMW car Joseph used to flee from Kochi, had also been taken to the police custody.
The woman, hailing from Kannur, was also allegedly cheated of Rs 5 lakh by Joseph, police said.
It is learnt that the woman, who had fled Kerala fearing retaliation by Joseph, took refuge at a friend’s place outside the State. After the Ernakulam central police registered a case on April 8 on the basis of the woman's complaint, Joseph issued her threats over the social media, the woman’s friend told Manorama Online.
The woman had been in Joseph’s illegal detention since February 2021.
He befriended the woman last year, who had been working in the modelling sector, offering help in trading equities. He had offered her returns of Rs 40,000 a month.
Believing in Joseph, the woman handed over to him the cash she had kept aside for starting a boutique in Kochi. Later, they became close and started living together. It has been alleged that Joseph had videographed her during their intimate moments.
The woman questioned him after he had failed to keep the promise of the monthly Rs 40,000 returns. Angered, he started to assault her physically. He further harassed the woman, demanding her to marry him.
Though the woman had once escaped from him and returned to her residence in Kannur, he blackmailed her into going back to him, saying he would otherwise make her nude visuals public through social media.
On her return, he allegedly started to assault her more, by even spraying water mixed with chilli powder into her eyes, and whipping her with a belt and broom.
Police said a preliminary investigation had revealed that the woman underwent the harassment from February 15, 2021 to March 8, 2021. She escaped from the flat and sought the police’s help when Joseph had gone out to get food.