New Delhi: A neighbourhood troublemaker, a gym trainer, a fruit-seller - unlikely partners in crime, they allegedly got together for a joyride that ended with a crime so barbaric that it changed India.
On December 16, the six men allegedly conned the 23-year-old physiotherapy trainee and her male friend into getting on their bus, gang-raped and brutalized her for hours, and later, threw the couple off the bus, naked and bleeding.
A court today pronounced four of the adult men guilty of 13 offences including gangrape, unnatural sex, murder, dacoity, conspiracy, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. (Read: Three of the four convicts to appeal)
The fifth accused Ram Singh, the driver of the bus, was found dead in his jail in March. He was remembered by neighbours at a shanty in south Delhi, as a quick-tempered troublemaker who frequently got into drunken brawls.
The second convict is Ram Singh's younger brother Mukesh, who lived with him and occasionally drove and cleaned the bus. Apart from the rape, he has been charged with attacking the girl and her boyfriend with an iron rod. But Mukesh claimed that he was driving the bus while the other five raped the girl.
Vinay Sharma, 20, was a gym assistant and fitness trainer who lived close to Ram Singh and his brother. He is the only one among them who has a school education and speaks English.
He claimed that he was not on the bus and was at a music function along with co-accused Pawan Gupta when the crime took place.
Pawan, a 19-year-old a fruit-seller, had earlier been reported as saying in court that he had "done a horrible thing... and should be hanged." But his lawyer later denied he had made the statement.
Akshay Thakur, 28, was a helper on the bus. He allegedly helped to wash and clean the bus to remove evidence.
The youngest accused, who was a few months short of 18 at the time of the savage crime, was convicted and sentenced to three years in a reform home last month.