EVIDENCE LACKING

Police slammed for botched probe, suspect freed

Robbery with suspect acquitted, victim died as court blames police for numerous blunders

In Summary

•Nyahururu magistrate condemns police investigation, says suspect should have been charged with murder since robbery victim died.

• Police did not dust for fingerprints, photograph the crime scene, send weapon for analysis or present the accused in an identification parade before witnesses.

Police blamed for poor probe as the victim dies in Nyandarua. /FILE
Police blamed for poor probe as the victim dies in Nyandarua. /FILE

Glaring gaps in police investigation have resulted in the acquittal of a robbery with violence suspect by a Nyahururu court.

Raymond  Njuguna, 35, was freed by Nyahururu chief magistrate Judith Wanjala on Wednesday for lack of evidence.

She blamed police for charging him with only robbery with violence and omitting to charge him with murder since the robbery victim died.

 
 

Njuguna had been accused of violently robbing businesswoman Susan  Karanja on March 2, 2017, at Ol Kalou town of an undetermined amount of money.

It was reported that Njuguna stabbed the 65-year-old  woman in the neck and she later died at t JM Memorial Hospital.

In her ruling, Wanjala said investigators had failed to pin down the suspect as the knife allegedly used to stab the victim was not taken for forensic investigations.

 “The evidence brought before the court is not sufficient to show that it was the accused person who killed the victim or it was he who was involved in the incident.

She said the police also did not dust the scene for fingerprints or take photographs of the crime scene.
 
The scene-of-crime officer did not testify, which weakened the case.

 

 

The two witnesses who had testified said Karanja was attacked in her shop in Ol Kalou town minutes after she returned from a table banking group meeting.

 
 

“I heard a scream for help. I rushed to her shop and found her on the ground. The attacker was still there. When he saw me enter the shop, he dropped the knife and fled through the back door,” the magistrate quoted a witness as telling the court.

Another witness said she heard a commotion and rushed to the scene where she found the victim lying in a pool of blood.

“I found the accused person at the scene as he ransacked drawers. He ran away after seeing me. Traders chased the suspect who tried to hide in an uncompleted septic tank nearby," she said.

A police officer who arrested the suspect told the court that he found him in the septic tank and saved him from a lynch mob.

In his defence, Njuguna had told the court that he was coming from lunch when he met a crowd who started chasing him and asking him for money he had allegedly stolen from a shop.

“They started attacking and pelting me with stones and I decided to run away for my life before I was rescued by police officers,” he said.

The magistrate also faulted the way the accused was arrested,saying that it was not certain that it was he who had committed the offence.

“After the accused person was arrested he was not presented before the witnesses for identification and therefore they could not positively identify him when they appeared to testify before the court,” she said. 

“Proper investigations were not done at the shop to establish the money that was stolen and the accused was just charged with having stolen an unknown amount of money.

“The money was also not recovered from the accused after he was arrested,” the magistrate said.