1.The accused pleaded guilty to the lesser but cognate offence of manslaughter under a plea agreement recorded on July 27, 2023.
2.On March 30, 2022, the accused, a bodaboda rider, was cutting vegetables using a kitchen knife. He was in his uncle’s house who was sound asleep. His cousin, Leonard Biwott (the deceased) then came in with another man, Allan. They questioned him aggressively on why he had siphoned off fuel from Allan’s motorbike. A confrontation ensued leading to a full blown fight between the accused and the deceased.
3.The accused’s uncle and Allan tried to quell the fight. Shortly afterwards, the deceased went outside the house and fell down. He had been stabbed on the back by the accused with a kitchen knife and was rapidly losing blood. He was rushed to hospital but succumbed to the fatal wound. The accused in the meantime escaped on his uncle’s motorbike to Ruiru where he hid the knife. He then took off to his rural home in Bomet and surrendered to Mulot Police Station.
4.The autopsy by Dr. Simon Omuok (exhibit 1) confirms that the cause of death was “excess haemorrage from lung injury due to sharp force trauma”.
5.I have considered the the mitigation tendered by the accused’s counsel, Mr. Mwangi Musango. He is aged about 23 years and a first offender. He displayed about seven certificates in Bible studies and other courses awarded to him in prison. He prayed for clemency and seemed genuinely remorseful.
6.According to the pre-sentencing report filed on October 5, 2023, the accused’s family and that of the deceased had commenced reconciliation under the Kipsigis traditional justice system. One cow (muget) was paid; and, nine more were to follow. However, the family of the deceased expressed disappointment because the cow gave birth before the promised nine were delivered.
7.So much so that whereas the accused’s family pleads for a lenient non-custodial sentence, the family of the deceased as well as the learned Prosecution Counsel pray for a severe and deterrent sentence. The probation officer on his part recommends a mixed sentence: part custody followed by a probation order.
8.Sentence should be commensurate to the moral blameworthiness of the offender but also guided by the nature and gravity of crime. Manslaughter is a grave felony and attracts a sentence of life imprisonment. The circumstances under which the accused stabbed his cousin to death call for a lengthy custodial sentence. That is the justice of the case. It will also afford the accused an opportunity to further introspect and get guidance on anger management.
9.I accordingly sentence the accused to serve five (5) years in jail. The sentence shall run from March 31, 2022, the date when he was first arrested and placed in custody.
10.The accused has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal within 14 days and as per the Rules of that Court but only on the sentence. A copy of the proceedings and sentence shall be supplied to him immediately.It is so ordered.