Kiambu High court has acquitted a bar owner and her security guard who were charged with 2 counts of murdering two young men who were killed while patronizing their bar in Githunguri in 2016.
Lady Justice Christine Meoli in her Judgement upon hearing the case set free Rose Wanjiru Mbugua alias Wamarion, the bar owner and James Mbugua Ngotho the security guard who had been charged with two counts of murder under section 203 as read with 204 of the penal code.
The duo had been charged with the brutal murder of two young men, Peter Paul Muchai and James Ndichu Mburu on the night on 3rd and 4th January, 2016 at Kwa Maiko Trading centre, Ngewa location of Githunguri sub-county.
Upon the bottles of beer being snatched from them on the material day, they were assaulted and their extensively wounded bodies were on the morning of 4th January found lying in the vicinity of a bar known as Kwamarion’s bar located at Kwa Maiko trading centre and was operated by the 1st accused while the 2nd accused worked as a security guard at the said bar.
Following the discovery of the bodies by the residents, there was a protest which at some point involved the hurling of projectiles such as stones in the direction of the said bar. The surging and angry crowd allegedly hindered initial police inquiries.
She stated in her Judgement “this is a most disturbing case. No serious investigations were carried out, and I dare say that the report by the accused to PW8 and PW9 concerning alleged thieves at her bar, seems to have influenced the apparent lackadaisical approach to the gory murder of two young men. Additionally, the first accused appears to have wielded an unhealthy degree of influence on the witnesses PW3 and PW4 and to have enjoyed a rather cozy relationship with the local police at Ngewa”
At the conclusion of investigations, the Office of the Public Prosecution (ODPP) arraigned the owner and her guard before the court.
The gist of the prosecution case through 11 witnesses stated that on the material period, there were 7 employees namely Njuguna, the second accused, Anne Wanjiru(PW1),Wambui, Catherine Wairimu(PW3), Margaret Wangechi(PW4 and Joyce. There is contention as to wheather or not PW1 had been dismissed by the 1st accused prior to 3rd January 2016.
On that day, PW1 and Wambui were allegedly attending customers at the front part of the bar where the liquor and bottled beer were sold while PW3 and PW4 were attendants at the back room counter where keg beer was served.
That at 10.30pm the 2 deceased persons entered the back room and ordered drinks, but the attendants declined to serve them as they were allegedly preparing to close at 11.00p.m.One of them having latched the counter left the room. Apparently PW3 also left or was leaving the room when she heard the counter being unlatched.
She called out to PW4 and the pair realized that the backroom counter had been unlatched, and the two men were missing and so were some bottles of beer from the counter. A search revealed that the 2 men were hiding within the compound. An alarm was raised by PW3 and several people including front bar attendants, their customers, Njuguna and the 2nd accused responded amid shouts of “thief, thief”
According to PW3 and PW4, the 1st accused was in her house and did not join the crowd. Two bottles of beer were snatched from the alleged thieves. The testimony by PW3 and PW4 concerning the material night ended with the locking up of the bar and going home but did not narrate to conclusion what happened eventually to the two deceased on the material day.
However, PW1 stated that the 2 men were severely assaulted in the backroom by the 1st and 2nd accused and that the room or corridor leading there was splattered with blood. The testimony of the female bar attendants resumed with events of the next day when the two bodies of the would-be-customers were found lying in a spot short distance from the bar.
The night incident was reported by 1st accused to PC Onyango (PW8) of Ngewa police Post. She claimed there had been a theft at her bar and that the thieves were killed by a mob. The matter was relayed to the officer in charge of the post Sergeant Omar Roba who mobilized the local chief James Gitau Kimani (PW2) CIP Saka of scenes of crime (PW7) and others to visit the scene where a hostile crowd had gathered.
PW7 documented the scene but allegedly, it was impossible to view the inside of the bar due to hostile crowd which threw projectiles at the police officers. By 15th January, when the IP Otieno visited the scene, it had completely been destroyed and the bar itself vandalized.
Having wrapped up his inquiries, PW11 had recommended that an inquest be conducted. In their defence, they gave unsworn statements in which the 1st accused said on the material day there was screaming from one of the bar attendants and when she inquired she learnt that some thieves had stolen alcohol. She called PW9 who apparently did not offer help and that she ordered the bar to be closed. The following morning at 6.30a.m as PW9 and others were at the scene a crowd gathered and ransacked the shop and destroyed goods and that she never saw the bodies of the 2 deceased. She however contended that her co-accused was a watchman at her bar at the time.
The 2nd accused on his part said he was on duty when PW3 and PW4 started screaming inside the bar. He then saw people leave the bar and run behind the bar using a side path. He did not leave his post as his duty was to guard the bar and shop. Despite the said commotion at the back of the building, he did not go to inquire.
Parties subsequently filed written submissions in which the prosecution submitted that it had proved the essential elements of the offence of Murder. For the part of the accused, they attacked the evidence of PW1 stating that it was not corroborated. Moreover, the defence submitted that there was no evidence to connect the accused person with the unlawful acts leading to the deaths of the deceased persons.
According to a post mortem report produced by PW10 in regard to Peter Muchai, he suffered multiple head injuries including depressed skull fracture, lacerations to the abdomen including a laceration to the liver with bleeding. The cause of death was stated to be multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma consistent with homicide.
In regard to the second deceased, James Ndichu Mburu documented multiple injuries to the head, including a depressed skull fracture and a stab wound from the posterior of the chest penetrating to the aorta, accompanied by massive bleeding. The cause of death was chest hemorrhage due to a stab wound.
The virtual Judgement was read by Duty Judge lady Justice Mary Kasango.
By Lydia Shiloya