• Police fired in the air after a man snatched a handbag; accused said he ran after hearing gunshots but public thought he was the thief.
• Magistrate dismissed as a lie claim that accused was arrested on his way to work, saying it was not convincing.
The Court of Appeal has quashed the life sentence of man charged with robbery with violence while armed with a toy pistol in 2006.
The three-judge bench concluded that two lower courts could have been wrong in the conclusions reached. The judges said they were persuaded that the appeal had merit.
Erick Ouma Ondutu was charged with robbing Mary Nzisa Mutua of a handbag containing a copy of a motor vehicle logbook and other items valued at Sh6,140.
He was allegedly with others not before the court and armed with a toy pistol. The offence allegedly occurred on October 28, 2006, along Landhies Road in Nairobi county.
It was revealed in court that Mutua was in her car with her driver when a man snatched her handbag and started running.
A police officer on patrol in the area shot in the air and members of the public started to run in different directions.
“Two of the men who were running towards Gikomba were shot dead while the appellant was arrested by members of the public and brought back to the scene, the police officers arrested him and took him to Kamukunji police station,” court papers read.
In his defence, Ondutu testified that he was heading to work along Landhies Road when he heard gunshots.
People started running in different directions and he also ran and entered a house where people thought he was a thief and he was arrested, he said.
In a lower court’s ruling, the magistrate dismissed as a lie that the accused was arrested on his way to work saying it was not convincing.
He was convicted.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Ondutu claimed that the particulars of the offence as set out in the charge sheet did not amount to the offence of robbery with violence.
Further, Ondutu claimed that the prosecution evidence had inconsistencies and contradictions. "It is not clear from the record why the prosecution did not call any witness to testify why the appellant was found in the house he stated he was hiding in."
The court of appeal judges argued that the lower court should not have dismissed the defence and freed the accused person.
Edited by R.Wamochie