The spiraling cost of litigation to hold on to a flat that didn’t quite belong to him led a 49-year-old unemployed Wadala resident to commit suicide — and take his family with him. Preliminary investigations indicate that Donatus Anthony, a resident of the upscale Bhakti Park in Wadala, offered his wife and two children aged 12 and four poisoned sweets, before consuming one himself. However, Donatus’s brother Anil insisted that it was a case of murder.Speaking to MiD DAY, he said, “My brother was murdered. There is a huge conspiracy against him. At no point did it seem to me that he would commit suicide. I hope the police investigate thoroughly.”
Senior Inspector Nagesh Jadhav, from the Wadala TT police, said, “All four of them had ingested toffees. We also found two bottles marked ‘CH’ under the couple’s bed. It appears that the father poisoned his family before consuming it himself.”
Anthony’s older brother Anil found the family lying dead on his bed at about 9.30 last morning. Police sources revealed that on Friday night, Donatus had cryptically told his brother to come over to his apartment and feed the fish in his aquarium on Monday. Asked why he wouldn’t be able to do so himself, he had explained that the family would be out of town.
Anil arrived to run the chore yesterday, only to be greeted by the smell of decomposing bodies. The air-conditioning had been switched on, and the room was freezing cold. The family was lying together on the couple’s double bed, having been dead for over 24 hours.
Dattatray Karale, DCP (Zone 4) said, “The deceased are Donatus (49), his wife Elizabeth (45), son Jason (12) and daughter Vivian (4). Donatus used to work as a computer engineer for an advertising firm. Jason was studying in Don Bosco High School. Donatus lost his job about five years ago.”
Jadhav added, “On Friday evening, Anil’s son Gracias had joined the family for dinner before returning home to Andheri. We suspect the incident took place some time after his departure.”
According to Karale, Donatus’s father had purchased the flat in which the family was staying for Rs 36 lakh in 2007. His father had paid Rs 20 lakh and moved the family into the flat. At the time of the father’s death, there were outstanding dues of Rs 16 lakh left to be paid for the flat.
“As Donatus was unable to pay, the seller, Kashimira B Zaveri, suggested he move out. Donatus asked for the Rs 20 lakh which had been paid by his father, and this was reimbursed.”
But Donatus still did not vacate the flat. Meanwhile, Zaveri had sold the flat to another individual, Naveen Shivaji Nawale, but possession remained with Donatus and his family.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Nawale said, “The flat is mine and I was paying the maintenance bills.” On October 8, 2008, Zaveri filed a suit for damages against Donatus in the Bombay High Court. The suit was later transferred to the City Civil Court.
According to the police, Donatus was made to deposit Rs 5 lakh in the court, along with an amount of Rs 20,000 per month. Though he later deposited the money, an amount of Rs 1,10,000 was outstanding. Donatus also had several cases against him for bounced cheques. A hearing had taken place at the City Civil Court on Friday.
A former lawyer of Donatus on condition of anonymity said, “I returned Donatus’s papers three years ago and had ceased to be his lawyer. He had been appearing in person in his cases. He had a debt on the purchase of a flat, for which he could not repay the money. Nor was he able to vacate the flat.”
The Wadala TT police have registered a case of accidental death.