Charcoal dealer to rot in jail for defiling minors

The Kiambu High Court on Wednesday upheld a life sentence for a charcoal dealer incarcerated for defiling four minors at Mukurwe village of Thika sub-county in 2006.

Justice C. B. Nagila dismissed an appeal by Joseph Kiarie Karanja that the appellant was well known to the children as he had been employed to burn charcoal at the home of the father of the first prosecution witness.

The other three girls’ evidence corroborated her evidence as they were sexually assaulted in turns, he said while giving verdict.

Further, the court heard that the evidence of the 7th prosecution witness, James Mungai, buttressed the testimony of them all as he witnessed the episode from a reasonable distance.

Karanja had initially been charged with defilement that on March 01, 2006 he unlawfully had carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16 years without her consent contrary to section 145(1) of the penal code.

In a second count, Karanja was charged with indecent assault of a girl that on the same day at Mukurwe village in Thika of Central Province, he indecently assaulted the minor by touching her private parts.

He faced a third count of attempting to have carnal knowledge with the second minor on the same day and scene.

Karanja was further charged on a fourth count with defiling the 3rd minor aged less than 16 years to which he pleaded not guilty.

The first trial at a lower court in Thika was terminated and a re-trial was ordered accordingly.

In the said retrial on February 18, 2013, the accused was tried for counts one and two and sentenced to life imprisonment in each count to run concurrently.

The appellant being aggrieved and dissatisfied appealed and was unrepresented.

Grounds for his appeal were that his fundamental rights were violated as he was detained in police custody for over three weeks and the trial took over two years.

He stated that he was not accorded a fair and impartial re-trial in that section 200 of the criminal penal code was infringed as second trial magistrate denied him the right to have witnesses recalled before terminating the case.

He further noted that the trial magistrate erred in both law and fact in basing the conviction on inconclusive evidence adduced by the prosecution.

However, the prosecution, led by Noel Mutheu, opposed the appeal stating it was a fair trial and that his rights were not infringed throughout the proceedings.

There were witnesses who linked the accused to the offence in particular the first and second witnesses and neither was there, the appellant averred.

In his ruling, Nagila observed that the four minors were headed to the coffee plantation in Mukurwe village and were sexually assaulted by the appellant in turns.

The trial magistrate said the first prosecution witness knew the accused very well and that the issue of mistaken identity did not arise. Her evidence was clear, consistent and cogent. I believed her

On the 7th prosecution witness, the trial magistrate said his testimony was the core evidence upon which the case was hinged.

He was with the 1st minor when he was sent to buy a cake but instead followed them and hid where he could see all what was happening.

On that evidence alone, one would find the case is water tight. It is an open and straight case and he was convicted on counts 1 and 11.The non-availability of clinical notes, notwithstanding, the case was retried.

The accused had been convicted by the predecessor but the original file burnt and the court ordered a retrial.

In his ruling, Justice Nagila said the appeal had no merit therefore the court upholds both the conviction and sentence of life imprisonment.

He was given 14 days to appeal.

Source: Kenya News Agency