A Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act court in Kollam city, Kerala, on Wednesday awarded three life sentences, besides 26 years of rigorous imprisonment, to a 25-year-old man who raped and murdered his seven-year-old niece in 2017, PTI reported. The court also asked the convict, Rajesh, to pay a fine of Rs 3.20 lakh to the family of the deceased.

On Tuesday, the court had convicted Rajesh for murder, rape, unnatural sex, abduction and showing disrespect to a dead body. The prosecution alleged that Rajesh strangled his niece and raped her after taking her to a rubber plantation at Kulathupuzha, after which he abandoned the body there.

The girl was on her way to a tuition centre along with her grandmother, when the convict assured the grandmother that he would drop her to the class. Instead, Rajesh took her to the rubber plantation, about 16 km away, in an autorickshaw and committed the crimes.

After a missing complaint from the child’s mother, the police launched a search. The child’s body was recovered two days after she was reported missing, the Hindustan Times reported.

Rajesh had led a protest against the school, after claiming that he had dropped the child there. However, CCTV visuals from a nearby house revealed that the victim was travelling with Rajesh. The convict confessed to his crime and led the police to the spot where he had abandoned the body.