3 years for officer who killed varsity student, lied about it

Dismass Gitenge Motongwa in the dock at a Miliman court where he was sentenced for causing the death of Maureen Wambui Gachagua by dangerous driving. [George Njunge, Standard]

A senior prison officer who killed a university student in a hit-and-run accident and lied to police he had hit a cow has been jailed for three years.

Dismas Gitenge was imprisoned yesterday, without the option of a fine, for causing the death of Maureen Wambui Gachagua in July last year on Mombasa road.

Magistrate Elekta Riany, while sentencing Gitenge, said she also considered the fact that Wambui was six weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

“The convict, Dismas, never apologised to the family of the dead since he killed their daughter,” said Riany.

The magistrate said the mother to Wambui attempted to commit suicide after she heard the news of her daughter's death.

Gitenge was jailed for the three years for causing death by careless driving and six months for giving false information to the police that he had knocked down a cow. The sentences will run concurrently.

The prosecution told court that after he knocked down the pedestrian, he told an officer at Lang'ata police station that he had hit an animal near Ole Sereni Hotel, knowing he was lying.

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Wambui's family said they welcomed the judgment because "at least justice has been served".

Ruth Njoki, a sister to Wambui, said the death had caused their mother agony and that she had withdrawn from the public.

“Although we feel that the judgement was lenient, at least the law was adhered to,” said Ms Njoki.

“The accused has never said sorry for the over 30 times we have been meeting in court. Accidents happen, but what he did after the accident is what made us push for justice,” said Njoki.

Gitenge said he would appeal the sentence, arguing that the offence of careless driving had an option of a fine. Through his lawyer Danstan Omari, he said he would also move to the High Court to seek release on bail pending the appeal.

He said the offence of causing death was not premeditated and that he had been denied a "fair sentence."

Convicted June 25

Gitenge was convicted on June 25 after being found guilty of killing the 22-year-old Third Year Kenyatta University student on July 15, last year.

Riany dismissed the claim that the officer thought he had knocked a cow, citing evidence that he tried to get rid of the body.

“His vehicle appeared to have a shattered windscreen and he was caught on CCTV camera retrieving the body and dumping it off,” said Riany.

Maureen and her boyfriend Dennis Mburu Baragu were returning from a night party at Next Gen Mall on Mombasa road on the fateful day.

Gitenge was driving a Volkswagen registration KCN 285B towards the City Centre when he knocked Wambui. The court heard that after hitting the student, the officer drove three kilometers with her body on the roof of his car and dumped it in South C.

A number plate of the car left lying next to Wambui's body helped crack the hit-and-run case.

Mr Omari had previously said he (Gitenge) was remorseful and urged the court to grant him a non-custodial sentence.

He said the Kenya Prisons Sergeant was a family man and that the victim’s family had "all other avenues to pursue compensation."

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Magistrate Elekta RianyOle Sereni Hoteljailed for three years