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November 14, 2018

Aristocrat Tom Cholmondeley, accused twice of murder, dies aged 48

Thomas Cholmondeley, one of Kenya's largest landowners and son of the 5th Baron Delamere, leaves the Nairobi Law Courts after his trial October 30, 2006. /REUTERS
Thomas Cholmondeley, one of Kenya's largest landowners and son of the 5th Baron Delamere, leaves the Nairobi Law Courts after his trial October 30, 2006. /REUTERS

Thomas (Tom) Cholmondeley, a famous Kenyan farmer of British ancestry, died on Wednesday afternoon aged 48.

The aristocrat died at MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi where he was taken on Tuesday for a hip replacement surgery.

He died from cardiac arrest at about 2pm after doctors tried to resuscitate him for over three hours after the operation.

Cholmondeley was the son of the 5th Lord Delamere, one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya.

He was the only heir of the vast Delamere estate in Naivasha town. His family is one of the largest landowners in Kenya and has lived in the country for close to a century.

The aristocrat, who had not been in the limelight for years, left behind fiancée Sarah Dudnesh, two teenage sons and his aging parents.

Cholmondeley's father, Lord Hugh George Delamere, is in his 80s and his mother Lady Ann is in the late 70s. They live on their farm in Soysambu.

A source in the family who declined to be named said Cholmondeley had suffered hip complications for the last two years.

“Tom was an avid motorcycle rider. He was involved in an accident that shattered his hip joint on one of his expeditions. He had to undergo surgery,” said the source.

“For the last two years Tom had been limping and even sought medical services in the UK before a doctor referred him to an expert in Kenya."

Cholmondeley hit the headlines in April 2005 after he shot and killed KWS game warden Samson ole Sisina in his Soysambu.

Sisina and his colleagues had raided the farm following reports the management processed game meat.

This led to countrywide demonstrations with leaders calling for a boycott of his livestock products.

Cholmondeley was arrested and arraigned but Amos Wako, the then Attorney General, terminated the case drawing condemnation from various quarters.

The aristocrat claimed self-defence, and the murder case was dropped before going to trial.

Cholmondeley shot and killed suspected poacher Robert Njoya in May 2006. 

He told police he and a friend were walking on his ranch when he saw five men with machetes, bows and arrows and a dead impala.

He said he shot at Njoya and a dog after he asked the men to stop but they set their dogs on him instead. But the men said he fired as they fled from him.

Njoya, a 37-year old father of four boys, died after a bullet fired by Cholmondeley nicked an artery in his pelvis.

Cholmondeley denied the murder charge but admitted shooting dogs belonging to a group of poachers he confronted on his 55,000 acre ranch.

In May 2009, he was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to eight months at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

He was released in October, 2009 following the three-year trial at the High Court in Nairobi.

Prison officials said it was normal for those with less than six months left on their sentences to be released early for good behaviour.

The two cases fanned simmering colonial-era resentment against settlers who snatched large swathes of land during British rule. 







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