When Alvin Omullo chose to bail out his cousin who had been arrested and charged with robbery with violence in 2018 at Winam law courts, he was confident that the case would have no impact on his life.
Omullo had little to be concerned about and did not believe his cousin would jump bail and disappear.
But Omullo is a broken man four years after he entered as a surety for the cousin. He was fired from his job as a police officer and served a 16-month prison sentence for a crime he claims he did not commit.
Despite an appellate court ruling that he was wrongfully imprisoned, Omullo's life has never been the same.
The 39-year-old man was sitting in an isolated corner when The Standard caught up with him at Kibuye estate yesterday. He appeared to be stressed and to be deep in thought.
His innocent decision to act as a surety for his cousin drastically altered his life for the worse. From 2003 to 2019, he worked as an Administration Police officer. His last place of employment was in Embu West.
His troubles began in 2018 when his cousin was charged with robbery with violence alongside another man.
- Mental disorders start in your teens
- 'Sandwich generation' stressed by debts, delusions
- Many schools are fertile grounds for mental health disorders
- After festive season, mental health crisis deepens, here's why
"My cousin was arrested and remanded in 2018. I went and agreed to sign surety for him after a family consultation," he narrates.
After the court accepted his bond application, his cousin was released from custody and attended court from his home.
After a while, however, his cousin vanished without a trace and has not been seen since. Omullo claimed they received word that he had been arrested again.
A search for him in police cells, however, was fruitless, even though his family remains hopeful that he will return.
Omullo said his cousin told him that his life was in danger because he had information that would implicate some police officers.
According to court documents obtained by The Standard, the former police officer was summoned to appear in court on February 28, 2019, to explain why the suspect for whom he acted as a surety failed to appear.
The court granted him time to look for the suspect, but he was unable to locate him.
Omullo was sentenced to six months in prison for each of the four counts his cousin was facing in court after failing to locate him. The sentence ran consecutively.
“After being sentenced, I did some research and found that the sentence was not to exceed six months and I appealed. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the appeal took time to be heard and determined so I ended up serving the sentence to term."
Omullo was sentenced in October 2019.
He says efforts to locate his missing cousin in order to save him were futile because the family was unable to locate him.
"We looked for him everywhere, including Mombasa and Nairobi. Even while I was in jail, my family continued to look for him. I feel like I was set up with people who also wanted to bring me down.'
Omullo said it was at this point that he lost his job and fell into a deep depression.
“I attempted suicide in prison but they found me in time and took me to the hospital. Since I came from prison, I have been battling depression."
On June 30, 2021, Justice Jackline Kamau declared he was wrongly convicted. Despite the verdict, Omullo says his life has changed and he is struggling to get back on his feet.