House help sentenced to eight years for killing daughter after being dumped by husband

A house help who poisoned her two children, killing one, after being dumped by her husband has been jailed for eight years.

However, the court ruled that Naomi Wamaitha Njeri, who killed her daughter in 2013, will not serve the entire sentence.

“I have taken into account the fact that she has been in remand custody for five years, and the fact that our prisons now have rehabilitation and reform programmes which benefit convicts. That is why she will only go for three years to continue with rehabilitation,” said Justice James Wakiaga.

Ms Njeri’s case was summarised as "one painful journey of love, desertion, frustration and pain" leading to the incident on March 26, 2013.

According to court records, Njeri was employed as a house help in Nairobi's Buru Buru estate after dropping out of school in Standard Eight. She met a handcart pusher and as their love blossomed, they got married.

But the marriage failed due to accusations of neglect, domestic violence and abuse. Njeri walked out after three years, leaving her husband to take care of their two children.

She went to look for employment in Eastleigh estate, where she soon fell in love with and married a matatu driver. They moved into a house in Kiambu town. However, Njeri kept the fact that she had two children a secret.

Meanwhile, the records showed, Njeri’s first husband started neglecting the children, forcing them out into the streets where they roamed for days until Njeri’s sister and brother rescued them.

They took care of Njeri's children while trying to trace her whereabouts. On March 24, 2013, they reunited Njeri with her children.

But her second husband rejected them and accused her of lying about her past. He demanded they leave his house.

In desperation, and in the belief that the children had ruined her new-found marital bliss, Njeri served them tea mixed with a pesticide. One child died.

Charge reduced

Njeri was initially charged with murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter. In mitigation, she pleaded with the judge to give her a lesser sentence, stating that she was remorseful about her child's death, which happened due to anger and fear of losing a second husband.

According to Njeri, she was alone at the time of committing the offence and lacked social support after being rejected by those closest to her.

The judge noted that Njeri was remorseful, "having been pushed to the wall and left with no option but to attempt to take her life and that of her children".

“It is the reason why there is a recommendation that she be placed on probation during which she will undergo intensive counselling on anger management and training on parenting and life skills to enable her make the right decisions," he said.