"I have lived a life of fear for the last five years, but knowing that my husbands killer has been sent to the gallows gives me peace," this were the words of the late Martin Koome's widow after the court sentenced former Ruaraka top policeman to death.
An elated Peninah said although its been a harrowing journey, justice has finally been served.
She went on: "I am glad it is a death sentence because if it is life sentence in future laws might change and he might get his way out and he may come looking for us. For death sentence he will stay there forever. Yes, it’s good because even me I will have peace finally. I had a burden in my heart, at least now I am relieved. I have lived a life of fear for the last five years. Even looking for a job was hard because I feared I might meet Mutua’s kin, but now I am free. I’m free because he has been found guilty, he is behind bars I can live without fear, I will be able to look for a job and even move freely.
The jobless widow said: "As much as I have that pain of losing Martin and he will never come back to us, I am happy because it has served as a lesson to other police or those people in government who may misuse their powers. We have heard other cases torturing and intimidating the poor thinking they are above the law, I want to say there is hope, there is hope."
Mutua's sentence will serve as a lesson to the police officers who abuse their powers and execute suspects or even the innocent.
Miraa trader Koome, 36, was arrested on December 19, 2013 was arrested after a domestic dispute and booked at Ruaraka police station, where he was tortured to death. The officer commanding station Nahashon Mutua 40, was then accused and tried over his murder. After a protracted trial, Mutua was found guilty of the murder in December last year. Mutua has maintained that he is innocent and his conviction was due to false statements given by the cellmates to the deceased on the fateful day. He believes that Koome’s cellmate are responsible for the injuries inflicted on the victim that resulted to his death.
But in sentencing him, Justice Stella Mutuku yesterday said the evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mutua caused the death of the deceased.
“I have considered and taken into account the contents of the new reports. I have also considered the mitigation of the accused and noted there are no previous criminal records. But looking at the painful death Koome was subjected to and the inhumane treatment he received, it’s my considered view that the befitting sentence in this case is death,” she said.
The Judge said it is an irrefutable fact that the death of Koome has deprived his family a bread winner, a husband and a father.
“This fact has changed their lives forever. There is little anyone can say or do to cushion the bereaved family against the pain caused by the death of their family member. It is only acceptance and time that will heal their pain,” she said
As the sentence was read out, Mutua appeared subdued and seemingly sorrowful. Dressed in his usual shiny grey suit, Mutua quietly shook his fist in displeasure after the death sentence was pronounced. Before he was whisked away by the court orderlies, he asked the court to have his title deed that stood as security for his bail terms released to his family.
Koome's widow told the Press she is glad it was a death sentence because if it was life, 'the laws might change in future and he might get away and come looking for them'.
She expressed the difficulties she has faced over the years when it came to securing a job.
"Every time I attempted to, I would get scared and worried thinking I might meet Mutua;s kin. But now I am free.I am free because he has been found guilty he is now behind bars. I will be able to look for a job and move freely. The heavy burden I have carried in my heart has been lifted," she said.
Peninah said the court verdict gives her hope that cases of torture and intimidation will not go unpunished.
The offence of murder attracts a mandatory death sentence but, since 1986 no convict has been lawfully executed in Kenya.
Mutua in mitigation, had said the matter ought to be investigated afresh because he is equally a victim of Koome’s death.
But the Judge said the prosecution had fully investigated the case before the accused was charged and that the case against him has been proved to the required legal standards.
“It is my view as the trial court that this case has been subjected to due process and the only recourse now is to take the matter on appeal to the next court in the hierarchy. He has fourteen days to appeal,” she said.
When the ex-cop was convicted, the Judge held that he misused his authority as the OCS and flouted the constitution and laws under the National Police Service standing orders. She said he did so to cover up what had happened at the station.
She said element of malice aforethought on part of deceased was proved. In this case, a metal rod was and deceased suffered injuries to the head, neck, face, and lower lip, eight broken ribs on the rights side and bleeding on the brain.
“I must admit this was an interesting case to preside over it was as strongly prosecuted as it was spiritedly and intensely defended. The demeanor of the accused person generally, and how he carried himself throughout this trial was a spectacle to behold. He was alert to every word uttered by witnesses. Nothing escaped his keen attention. He kept his lawyers on their toes,” said the Judge
On the night of December 19 2013, a helpless Martin Koome was tortured and brutally murdered by the ex-cop. Armed with a metal rod, Mutua struck Koome multiple times causing him injuries on his head, neck, face and lower lip, eight broken ribs on the rights side and bleeding on the brain.
Koome going by the court records, tried to shield himself. He cried for mercy and forgiveness but all the officer did was attack him the more. After the assault he was left for death and was only taken to hospital the following day and dumped there. Mutua was then charged with the murder of Koome in 2015 but he hatched a scheme to cover up the murder. Evidence on record showed that the former OCS used his powers to intimidate Koome’s cellmates to falsely report that Koome was assaulted by a fellow cellmate. Mutua then implicated cellmate Kelvin Odhimabdo and charged him with Koome’s murder. One year later, International Justice Mission filed a complaint with Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) over the false charges against Kelvin. The Agency conducted an independent investigation and concluded that indeed the former OCS had framed Kelvin. Kelvin was later set fee after the DPP entered a nolle prosequi “will no longer prosecute”. It was then that the former OCS was charged with the murder.
The deceased Martin Koome was aged 36 years at the time of demise. His family hails from Runogone location in Imenti North Sub County within Meru County. His father a retired river from Meru School is currently bedridden due to what was alleged to be depression since 2014, soon after the death of his son. Koome was a Miraa trader and was blessed with one child who was nine months old when he died.