Lawyers decline to cross-examine expert in Sh3.5m theft case

Defence lawyers say they were not given document of forensic examiner

In Summary

• Forensic document examiner was testifying before Meru chief magistrate.

• The defence team argued that the prosecution never supplied them with the examiner’s document.

Lawyers of suspects in a Sh3.5 million theft case on Wednesday refused to cross-examine a prosecution witness despite a magistrate urging that they do so. 

Meru chief magistrate Lucy Ambasi said it was common knowledge that when an expert testifies, his/her documents are produced on the material hearing date.

“It will be a waste of judicial time to have a witness travel from Nairobi to testify but doesn’t proceed. The document is a single three-page form that you can read and cross-examine the witness. I, therefore, deny you an adjournment," Ambasi told lawyers Mutegi Mugambi and Erick Nyadimo for an Administration Police officer and two co-accused.

Constable Josphat Kipyegon, his girlfriend Rose Kajira and Winnie Chebet are charged with robbing former Tharaka Nithi Deputy Governor Eliud Murithi Mate of the cash.

Kipyegon was guarding Mate at the time of the alleged theft.

Chief inspector Alex Mwongela, a forensic document examiner based at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Nairobi, produced exhibit specimen for handwriting and signatures belonging to Kajira after receiving them from Meru investigating officer Benson Sindani.

Mwongela, who has 12 years of document analysis experience, said a report on the handwriting on a certified copy of KCB customer transaction voucher and a copy of large transactions declaration form from the lender was prepared by his colleague, chief inspector Susan Wambugu. 

Wambugu, he said, ascertained that the handwriting and signatures were by  Kajira.

But lawyers Mugambi and Nyadimo did not cross-examine him arguing that the prosecution did not supply them with the forensic examiner’s document.

Mugambi asked the court to adjourn the case to allow the defence time to scrutinise the document first.

“It will be unfair to my clients to cross-examine the witness based on the document that I have not been supplied with contrary to Article 50(1) of the Constitution," he said.

Nyadimo complained that the document was procured on May 18, last year, yet the prosecution did not see any need to supply him.

The lawyers said they will appeal Ambasi's ruling in the High Court and asked for a copy of the ruling.

Kajira had confessed to the police that she deposited Sh1.4 million into the account of Chebet, is who also charged with handling stolen money.

Kipyegon had on October 2016 allegedly robbed Mate of the money at gunpoint at his Kinoru estate home in Meru.

Mate had just arrived home from Kathwana where he had sold a piece of land when his bodyguard allegedly attacked him and grabbed the bag containing the money.

The prosecution ignored Mate’s plea to have the case dropped.

The suspects are out on Sh2 million bond or Sh500,000 bail each.

The case will be heard on June 19.