Former nominated senator Joy Gwendo has been saved from a two-year jail sentence for stealing Sh1.7 million from a co-operative society.
High Court Judge John Onyiego ruled that the magistrate who sentenced Gwendo made a mistake by not giving her the option of fine or a non-custodial sentence, given that she had agreed to refund the money.
“The magistrate should have first explored the option of a fine as provided in the law, rather than the harsh custodial sentence. I find that the magistrate erred in passing the sentence and going ahead to deny her the right of appeal,” ruled Mr Onyiego.
He, however, agreed with the magistrate’s finding that the former senator reneged on a promise to refund the money after entering a plea-bargaining agreement with the complainant.
Onyiego ruled that although Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate denied Gwendo the opportunity to challenge the jail sentence, the High Court had powers to review any sentence it believed to be erroneous.
He said the court was satisfied that the decision to jail her was based on wrong principles, given there was no set timelines in which she was supposed to refund the money. “I therefore set aside the two-year jail sentence and direct that a probation officer prepare a report for purposes of giving her a fresh sentence on Monday.”