The High Court has freed a man who had been jailed for two years for stealing property worth Sh1,000 from his employer.
Justice Jacqueline Kamau said the nine months Stanley Bett had spent behind bars were enough punishment for his crime.
“This court found the period he already served to have been sufficient punishment. Although the court upholds the conviction, it hereby substitutes the sentence of two years imprisonment with nine months imprisonment that the appellant has since served. It is hereby directed that the appellant herein be and is hereby released from custody unless he is otherwise lawfully held,” ordered Justice Kamau.
However, Justice Kamau found that even if the metal rods were returned to the complainant and their value was low, Bett’s actions had serious consequences for the economy as well as an entire community that relied on the rods for their economic activities.
Bett was charged with stealing 28 metal rods from his employer, the Rural Electrification Authority.
“Bearing in mind that the Appellant breached the trust that had been bestowed upon him by his employer by stealing the very goods that he had been employed to protect from bad elements in the society, it was the considered opinion of this court that the sentence of two (2) years imprisonment was not excessive for such an offence,” she observed.
However, the judge found that Bett saved the court’s time by admitting that he had stolen and was a first offender.
She stated: “This court took the view that since the appellant pleaded guilty at the first instance thus saving the court valuable time in going through the rigours of a full trial and he was a first offender, he ought to have benefitted from a lower sentence.”
Bett found himself on the wrong side of the law last year. He admitted to stealing metal rods worth Sh1,000 in the hope that he would get a non-custodial sentence. To his shocker, the magistrate’s court handed him two years in jail without a fine.
Aggrieved, he filed an appeal on the sentence only. He stated that the rods owned by REA were returned to the government corporation.
According to him, he had pleaded with the lower court for a non-custodial sentence since he was a first offender.
“The prosecution did not produce any records to show that he was a serial offender and consequently the sentence meted out to him was harsh,” said Bett.
In his appeal, he argued that the lower court ought to have considered that there was no one who was harmed or deprived of any right.
He asserted that the sentence ought to have attracted a non-custodial sentence or a fine.
The Director of Public Prosecutions opposed the case. He argued that the sentence meted out to Bett was within the law.