1.The accused, Geofrey Chelule was charged with the offence of murder contrary to section 203 as read with section 204 of the Penal Code. The particulars of the offence were that on April 25, 2022 at around 0130 hours at Koibeyon village in Kapkimolwa location, Bomet East sub-county within Bomet County, the accused murdered Kelvine Kimutai.
2.The accused took plea on June 23, 2022 and denied the charge. The case was then set down for pre-trial directions.
3.The case proceeded for hearing on February 21, 2023 when Joyce Chepkemoi (PW1) testified. She told the court that she was the mother of the deceased and that the accused was her brother. When PW1 completed her testimony, the learned prosecution counsel Mr Njeru stated that the families of the accused and the victim had informed him that they had reconciled. He therefore wished to make a plea offer to the accused. He sought an adjournment for that purpose.
4.A plea bargain agreement dated September 27, 2023 was filed on the same day. The Plea agreement indicated that the accused had agreed to plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.
5.On October 4, 2023, this court accepted and admitted the plea agreement after satisfying itself that the accused had engaged in plea negotiations and signed the agreement voluntarily. The court took particular attention to confirm that the accused understood the trial rights he would forgo and more importantly that the accused understood that his sentence would be at the discretion of the court.
6.The accused subsequently took plea for the offence of manslaughter. He accepted the charge and the court entered a plea of guilty for the offence of manslaughter.
7.The learned prosecution Counsel, Mr Waweru read the following facts as captured in the plea agreement:-
8.The prosecution produced the Post-Mortem Report (Exhibit 1), the murder weapon (Exhibit 2) and a red blood stained Red, T-Shirt (Exhibit 3). The accused stated that the facts were true and the court convicted him on his own guilty plea for the offence of manslaughter contrary to section 202 as read with section 205 of the Penal Code. The court further called for a Pre-Sentence Probation Officer’s Report and scheduled a sentencing hearing.
9.The Pre-Sentence Report dated October 23, 2023 was filed on the same day. The Report stated that the accused regretted his actions and that he had asked for forgiveness from his family members. That the accused had promised to reform his life and abstain from alcohol.
10.The Probation officer further reported that the community through the local administration stated that the victim’s family had reconciled and resolved to forgive the accused.
11.Mr Leteipa learned counsel for the accused made submissions in mitigation on behalf of the accused. He submitted that the court should consider the statement of facts contained in the Plea Agreement as it was shown that the offence was committed when the accused and the deceased were completely drunk. That it was the deceased who first attacked the accused and the accused stabbed him with a knife. Counsel further submitted that the accused’s family and that of the deceased had reconciled and had resolved to forgive the Accused as shown by the testimony of PW1 who testified before the plea agreement was executed by the parties.
13.On their part, the prosecution through the learned prosecution counsel Mr Njeru submitted that they appreciated that the accused had saved State resources by pleading guilty to the offence of manslaughter. He however submitted that the court should consider that a life had been lost. He drew the attention of the court to the high incidences of murder in the county because of drunkenness. He urged the court to issue a custodial sentence however lenient as the same would discourage such killings as opposed to a probation sentence.
14.Sentencing serves multiple purposes as enumerated in the Sentencing Policy Guidelines 2023 which outline the objectives of sentencing at paragraph 1.3.1 as follows:-Sentences are imposed to meet the following objectives. There will be instances in which the objectives may conflict with each other- in so far as possible, sentences imposed should be geared towards meeting the objectives in totality.i.Retribution.ii.Deterrence.iii.Rehabilitation.iv.Restorative justice.v.Community Protection.vi.Denunciation.vii.Reconciliation.viii.Reintegration.
15.In sentencing the accused, I will be guided by the gravity of the offence, the circumstances of the case and the offender’s personal circumstances. The court is also required by the Victims Act (2014) to take into consideration the views of the victims or the Victim Impact Statement.
18.I have considered the victim’s impact statement contained in the pre-sentencing report. The accused was the victim’s uncle and therefore there existed a close familial relationship. The Report stated that the victim’s mother had slowly come to terms with the loss of her son and that she had forgiven the accused who was her brother.
19.The report further stated that the victim’s relatives who were close kinsmen to the accused had resolved to forgive the accused and have him undergo the traditional cleansing ritual once he has completed his prison term. The victim’s mother pleaded with the court to issue the accused with a light jail sentence so that it can serve as a reminder of the offence he committed.
20.I have also considered the circumstances of the offence. The accused and the deceased were close relatives and on the material day for unclear reasons, they engaged in a fight which left the deceased with fatal injuries. I have also considered the fact that at the time of the commission of the offence, both the accused and the deceased were drunk.
21.I have considered the victim impact statement and the fact that the family had reconciled and forgiven the accused. They have however sought a prison sentence as part of the accused’s rehabilitative punishment.
22.I have taken into consideration that the Accused has been in custody since April 25, 2022 when he was arrested and that he had no prior criminal record. I have also taken into consideration the fact that the deceased lost his life as a result of a senseless killing arising out of a drunken brawl. I am persuaded that a non-custodial sentence was not appropriate in this case. The accused shall be better rehabilitated in prison where he can also acquire a skill to aid him after release.
23.The accused shall serve 5 years’ imprisonment. The sentence shall be deemed to run from April 25, 2022 being the date of his first arrest and pre-trial custody.