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Robbers at a sugar company headed to the gallows after losing two subsequent appeals

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Dennis Mbae | July 15th 2015

KISUMU: The moon was shining bright on January 25, 2007 at Awendo in Kisumu when three heavily armed men stealthily approached Sony Sugar staff quarters. Inside one of the houses, Isack Mauti was relaxing after a sumptuous supper as his family chitchatted to while away the night before retiring to bed.

As the conversation grew interesting, Mauti’s children raised their voices, much to the excitement of the three robbers laying an ambush outside.

Mauti had no inkling of the ordeal that awaited him and his family. Outside, the three assailants crept toward their target and positioned themselves.

Exactly three minutes later, they broke into the house and ordered everyone to stay still. They proceeded to purloin items worth thousands of shillings. Mauti’s attempt to intervene attracted the wrath of the robbers who violently assaulted him.

The robbers then carried away the loot leaving Mauti in a critical condition.

Unfortunately, neither Mauti nor the children were able to identify the attackers. After rushing their father to hospital, the children reported the robbery to the police who arrived at the scene moments later.

Soon after being briefed on what had happened, two police officers picked up the trail of the robbers.

With the help of the moonlight, they meticulously followed fresh footprints which led them into a lush maize plantation.

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On realising their need for reinforcement, the two police constables requested and got a contingent of several officers with whom they thoroughly combed the plantation.

In the process, they heard people talking within the plantation and immediately laid an ambush.

It was a few minutes to 1am.

“I saw three men emerge from the maize plantation and head to a nearby house. Two of them were carrying some items,” Constable Michael Owiro later testified before a Senior Resident Magistrate court in Rongo.

Before the police could make any move, one person left the house and entered into an adjacent house prompting the police to separate into two groups

On storming one of the houses, the officers encountered a naked man who sprinted away leaving behind his girlfriend, Judith Adhiambo, and another man identified as Joseph Okeyo and who is currently awaiting the hangman’s noose.

Police arrested the duo and recovered some of the stolen items.

In the second house, police found and apprehended Charles Njonjo who is also headed to the gallows after he and Okeyo lost a second appeal against a death sentence last month.

When the trial court acquitted Ms Adhiambo and convicted Okeyo and Njonjo, the latter two challenged the ruling at the High Court in Kisii but lost the appeal on July 23, 2009.

The High Court upheld the conviction on the basis that the two were found in recent possession of stolen items. Aggrieved by the outcome, they lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Kisumu where they argued that the process of identifying them was flawed as the moonlight was insufficient.

But in their ruling, appellate judges David Maraga, Agnes Murgor, and Stephen Kairu dismissed the appeal saying they were satisfied that the two appellants and the man who ran away naked were together on the fateful night and were the ones who emerged from the maize plantation.

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