Judge roots for protection of child offenders

A man who was jailed for life seven years ago while still a teenager for defiling a nine-year-old girl has been freed.

While delivering his judgment, Justice Joel Ngugi indicated that the trial court should have considered the age of the convict identified as PK before sentencing him to life.

PK, now 23, faced an alternative charge of committing an indecent act on the girl on November 17, 2012, at Kiptangwany market in Gilgil.

“No consideration was given to the fact that the appellant was a minor when he was admitted to bail with the result that he was given prohibitive conditions which he could not meet. He, therefore, ended up in detention during the 14 months of the pendency of his trial,” said the judge.

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The judge stated that the police officer who made the arrest, prosecutor, trial magistrate and also the prison department which held PK had an obligation to address the needs of the minor.

Conflict with law

Ngugi noted that when a child is in conflict with the law, he or she has a right to be held separately from adults and in conditions that take account of their sex and age. But PK was in adult custody in spite being a minor.

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The judge said it is important for trial courts to make inquiries or conduct pre-trial conference where a person is charged with a serious offence before the trial commences so as to be faithful to Article 21(3) of the Constitution in cases of persons who appear to be minors.

PK appealed against the life sentence handed to him on October 10, 2013.

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The judge added the trial court failed to give the appellant legal representation or other assistance.

However, Prosecutor Amos Chigiti preferred the matter be sent back for retrial, but the court ruled that PK had already gone through unfair trial.

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