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Pilot humbled by grim reality of police cell

By Antony Gitonga | February 25th 2016

Nyandarua, Kenya: Alistair was arrested and charged in a Kinangop court for assaulting a police officer on Sunday.

The pilot had on Sunday flown the Deputy President in a helicopter to the area for a church service when he was caught on camera assaulting Police Corporal Mercy Wandera.

Given his proximity to the deputy president, Alistair is known to ooze power. This explains the initial reluctance by Ms Wandera to record a statement.

Pushed officer

The pilot is seen arguing with the officer before grabbing her swagger stick and later hitting and pushing her, to the anger of residents.

But Alistair's experience in remand will ring with the truth of the famous idiom, "how the mighty have fallen".

When he stood before Engineer Town Senior Resident Magistrate Martin Mutegi yesterday to answer to two counts, he was a shaken man.

Other than the charge of assault, Alistair was also accused of creating disturbance on the same day by calling the police officer "stupid" corporal.

The prosecution led by George Mong'are objected to the release of the accused on bond saying that he was a flight risk.

Mr Mong'are told the court that apart from his alien card, the pilot did not have a passport adding that he could flee the country.

Ongoing probe

The prosecutor further told the court that the accused could interfere with State witnesses and the ongoing investigation.

"If the court grants him bond or cash bail, they should come with strict terms and conditions so that the accused doesn't flee the country," he said.

The accused's lawyer, Stanley Kang'ahi, objected saying the accused though a British national was born and brought up in Kenya.

He told the court that being a foreigner was not a reason to deny a suspect bond, adding that the accused was entitled to cash bail.

The lawyer said that the accused had a wife and a three-month-old child and challenged the prosecution to prove how the pilot could flee the country.

The magistrate remanded the pilot at the Engineer Police Station until February 29 when he will make a ruling.

After being denied bail, the pilot was herded back to the cells at the Kinangop Police Station where he came face to face with the grim reality of the country's police cells.

The cells are serviced by a nearby latrine and rely on water from a nearby tap. An officer told The Standard that remandees use a pit latrine shared by 10-15 suspects at any given time.

The officer added that the station had no special cells, and the foreigner on his first night slept in the cells with five other remandees, and was provided with a mattress as was custom.

The blankets, the officer said, have seen better days and most of them are torn.

After spending the night in the cells, he took a cold shower and later was served with tepid tea and bread before attending a court session at Engineer Law Courts.

On Tuesday after his arrest, the suspect was served with ugali and cabbage in the cells where there are no dinner tables or a special diet.

His advocate yesterday brought him a jacket to ward off the cold as temperatures in the area at times go to as low as negative 6 degrees celsius.

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