Siblings jailed over will forgery claims set free

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The Court of Appeal has set free two siblings who had been jailed for seven years over claims of forging their grandmother's will in a succession case.

Justices Asike Makhandia, Sankale Kantai and Mwaniki Gachoka ruled that Caroline Wambui and her brother John Mwangi were wrongfully convicted when they were sentenced to jail terms in 2014.

"We quash the conviction of the appellants and set aside their seven-year sentence. They shall be set free unless otherwise lawfully held," ruled the judges.

According to the appellate judges, the evidence submitted by the siblings and the prosecution proved that they may have been framed.

The judges criticised their uncle David Kinuthia and investigating officer Paul Waweru who were involved.

"It is clear as confessed by the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (ODPP) that the two were convicted without concrete evidence. The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) has now conceded to the appeal," the judges noted.

According to the judges, Police Inspector Waweru forwarded a wrong thumbprint of Josephine Wambui Ndungi to be compared with that of their grandmother Josephine Wambui Mwangi.

The court also noted that the thumbprint was forwarded to the National Registration Bureau instead of the Forensic Fingerprint Identification Bureau as required by law.

"The ODPP, in a letter dated March 8, 2023, concluded that the investigating officer seemed hell-bent to ensure the appellants were charged and convicted," said the judges.

The judge affirmed the ODPP's stand that there were some serious gaps in investigations which led to a miscarriage of justice.

They ruled that it was shocking that the judge who handled the first appeal failed to look at the gaps in the evidence that led to their convictions.

The judges also took note that the prosecution unfairly declined to charge lawyer Grace Wamaitha, despite admitting on oath that she helped the family prepare Ms Mwangi's will in 2004.

Wambui and Mwangi were taken in by their grandmother after their mother died in 1993.

She died on March 6, 2004.

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