By Tassie Seneviratne –
Four bombs carried by post when postage stamps still bore the portrait of King George V1, created a most fascinating case of a paedophile’s infatuation for a schoolboy. That His Majesty’s Service delivered bombs for murder, it was then said. Mixed with unreasonable expectations bordering madness, rolled up in hatred, he ingeniously planned to murder the boy he failed to get for keeps, and many others who stood in his way.
Lenaduwa Lokuge Jayawardene, (LL J) although not an expert tailor himself, selected a business of tailoring. He got hold of a rickety old sewing machine, and then a new one on hire-purchase. He then transferred the parts of the new machine to his old machine and then defaulted payment. The hire-purchase company seized their machine, and LL J thus acquired a new machine for nothing.
LL J next hired expert tailors to work in his establishment which he named “Jayasiri Tailoring Mart” (JTM). He then specialized in the art of making shirts and shorts for boys. Shirts and shorts made at JTM soon became a fad and JTM became a haunt for boys. He also acquired a motor cycle and often took the boys for ‘rides.’ Many of these boys, consented to doing the what comes unnaturally by LL J for goodies showered on them.
S. M. Samarasinghe, born on 11th Nov. 1930, was the youngest in a family of four children. The father was a cultivator, and the elder children were fairly well educated and well to do. The elder siblings took the education of the youngest in their hands and admitted him to Dharmaraja College, a leading school in Kandy.
Although there was the desire on the part of the elder siblings to give him of the best, they did not have sufficient means to board him in the college hostel, and had to settle for places they could afford. One such place the boy was boarded was ‘Jayasiri Tailoring Mart’ belonging to LL J. A brotherly relationship was developed by LL J towards the boy whom he showered with gifts. Thereafter he started to commit ‘unnatural offence’ on him forcibly which the boy loathed and wanted to find a boarding elsewhere. The boy contacted a family friend, Kodikara, who found him lodging in the house of Alwis Appuhamy, the owner of Fancy Stores in Kandy. The accused kept bothering Kodikara and Alwis Appuhamy to send the boy back to him. His reason that the boy, due to his pleasant appearance, was a good omen for his business, was a canny subterfuge for his homosexual desire.
When all his entreaties failed, he started to threaten that he will kill the boy if he does not come back to him. At this stage, in order to keep the boy out of reach of the accused, his elder brother, Podi Nilame, arranged with one Jayasinghe, the Assistant Manager of the Tarzan Office in Kadugannawa, for the boy to stay in his office, and on 3rd March 1947 the boy left Alwis Appuhamy’s house.
A few days after the boy went to reside in the Tarzan Office, the accused started to visit there and wanted jayasinghe to send back the boy to him. On 27th March the accused had met the boy on the road and assaulted him. On a complaint to the police a case had been filed in courts under the Vagrants Ordinance against the accused. The accused had prevailed on Podi Nilame to have the case withdrawn, but to no avail. The case was heard on 14th August 1947 and the accused convicted and fined Rs. 5/= With that the affection that the accused had for the boy turned into hatred.
Thereupon, the accused started to make threats that were not taken seriously at the start. But persistent threats he had conveyed to a close friend of his, K. T. Simon, that he would send explosive parcels to the boy and his siblings, put Simon on the alert and he sent out warnings to the boy and his siblings.
On the 20th January 1948, the accused handed in two parcels at the Havelock Town post office for dispatch by post. One had been addressed to the boy at Kadugannawa and the other to his sister, Mrs. Seneviratne at Nelundeniya. On both parcels the sender’s name was written as A. M. Seneviratne of the Training College, Colombo. This again was his ingenuity, as the sender’s name being A. M. Seneviratne, the husband of one of the siblings, the recipients would drop their guard. On the same day the accused handed in two other parcels at the General Post Office, Colombo. One was addressed to Podi Nilame Samarakoon, the brother of the boy, and the other to Miss Dissanayake, the boy’s girl-friend.
On the morning of 21st January, the boy left for school and in his absence the parcel was delivered at the bus office. Mrs. Seneviratne received her’s at Nelundeniya; Miss Dissanayake received one at her address and Podi Nilame, received one at his address. When Podi Nilame received his parcel, his suspicions were aroused and anticipating that his brother, the boy Samarasinghe, might also have received one, set out to Kadugannawa to warn the boy. When he arrived at Kadugannawa, it was too late; the boy had already been blown up. The others had miraculous escapes.
There was also the evidence that two stylishly-dressed men came by bus from Kegalle and left two bombs in a boutique run by Dingiri Banda (DB) and Punchi Banda (PB) close to Bulathkohupitiya, and vanished. These bombs were identical to the postal bombs sent to the family members of the deceased boy. DB and PB were over-holding tenants of the deceased boy’s family and there was ill-feeling owing to litigation. The master plan of the accused was to implicate them in the manufacturing and sending of all the bombs, and in fact that was the defence that was put forward.
The case depended entirely on circumstantial evidence and the trial lasted eight days. The jury retired at 10.51 a.m. and returned at 11.51 a.m. They were unanimously agreed on the verdict that the accused was guilty.
It is to the credit of the police to have meticulously tied up the circumstantial evidence in this case and brought to book this highly talented yet diabolical social parasite.
This would well have been the perfect crime if not for providence that led the accused to blurt out his plans to his closest friend K. T. Simon who warned the victims and also bore testimony at the trial, doing his civic duty. If not for his warnings, many more would have been killed.
On the 9th of May 1949, when large crowds of people had flocked to the Audience Hall of the S.C. and outside, Trial Judge F.R. Dias passed death sentence on the accused.
The accused appealed up to the Privy Council, but his appeals were dismissed.
*The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org