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Man who killed magistrate's daughter jailed for 40 years

 Benson Kimathi, a former prison warder, was sent to jail for the murder of Maribel Kapolon who was nine at the time of the murder in September, 2018. [iStockphoto]

It was a love triangle, gone wrong, that led to the most heinous of crimes, murder.

For murdering a magistrate’s daughter four years ago in Meru, a man will spend the next 40 years behind bars.

Chuka High Court judge Lucy Gitari sent Benson Kimathi, a former prison warder to jail for the murder of Maribel Kapolon who was nine at the time of the murder in September, 2018.

However, a second accused, Francis Otundo who had sought a ‘ransom’ of Sh500, 000 from her family after the girl was reported missing, was set free.

The magistrate labelled Otundo an opportunist who was only out to con the magistrate but was not involved in the murder.

Maribel was the daughter of Caroline Kemei who was then serving as Githongo (Central Imenti) Magistrate and was lured from her schoolmates before her body was found in the Gitoro forest in North Imenti.

The Standard Four Pupil at the Consolata Primary School - a mid-tier Catholic Church-owned school in Meru town - was murdered between September 6 when she was abducted and September 16 when her mutilated and decomposing body was found in the Gitoro section of the Upper Imenti Forest.

She was Kemei's only child, the magistrate is believed to be estranged from the victim's father John Maasai Kapolon with whom they also have an older son.

Kimathi, who was said to be an ex-lover of the magistrate, reportedly lured Maribel who referred to him as ‘uncle’, after she and others had been dropped by the school bus at around 5pm on September 6, 2018, near Makutano.

Though Ms Kemei who met and Kimathi when he worked at Kangeta and she as resident magistrate at Maua had parted ways, he and the young girl had become used to one another and so he at times picked her up after the school bus dropped her off.

It was under those circumstances that Kimathi did not raise any suspicion from others when he picked Maribel up from the usual drop point at a petrol station.

After 11 days she was discovered dead in the forest, a post-mortem revealed she was hit a number of times on the head.

Handing the sentence Ms Gitari regretted that an innocent child had to die.

The court heard that Kimathi was the last person to be seen with her alone.

The judge termed the murder an evil offence that ought to be discouraged.

“This evil and beastly sacrifice of an innocent child at the altar of the failed love affair is an offence which needs to be discouraged,” she the judge.

“To the first accused I sentence to imprisonment for a period of 40 years, with the right of appeal in 14 days,” she said.

She however let Otundo free, saying: “He was an opportunist who was out to enrich himself out of a very sad situation.”

She said he had been in custody and should have learned a lesson.

“I, therefore, discharge him under Section 35(1) conditionally for a period of one year which means that he should not commit an offence within that period.”

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