The Madras High Court has confirmed the conviction and sentence imposed on 14 individuals involved in the sensational 2008 heist of ₹3.72 crore belonging to popular retail chain Mangal and Mangal and observed that the modus operandi for the crime appeared to have been lifted from Peter Colinson’s movie The Italian Job.
Justice P.N. Prakash seriously wondered whether the convicts had watched the movie before executing the crime. He said as per the prosecution case, the retail giant, a partnership firm, was into the business of selling home appliances, furniture and jewellery. It had its head office in Chennai and branch office in Tiruchi.
On August 10, 2008, the firm had transported some home appliances from Tiruchi to Chennai. In the same truck, it transported ₹3.72 crore in four cartons for purchasing gold. Two of its employees, who were present at the time of loading the cash and the goods in to the truck, had leaked the information to a bigger gang.
The gang was led by Vakil Pandi, a law college dropout, who had masterminded the entire operation. It first intercepted the truck at Gomuki bridge in Cuddalore district.
The convicts posed as government officials and questioned the transporters for carrying huge amount of cash without documents. They were accused of having links with terrorist outfits.
Some of the convicts made the firm’s employees get into the closed goods compartment and locked them up from outside. A few others got into the driver’s cabin and drove the vehicle to a secluded place before dumping the vehicle and took away the cash.
Suspecting foul play, the employees banged the doors of the goods container with pressure cooker handles until a few passer-by heard the noise and rescued them.
The judge appreciated the trial court prosecutor T. Rajamanickam for his invaluable assistance to the court and confirmed the conviction as well as the sentences with minor modifications.