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|Case Number:||Criminal Appeal 70 of 1980|
|Parties:||Wilson Kinyua and Ibrahim M’Inanga v Republic|
|Date Delivered:||10 Nov 1980|
|Court:||Court of Appeal at Nyeri|
|Judge(s):||Chunilal Bhagwandas Madan, Cecil Henry Ethelwood Miller, Kenneth D Potter|
|Citation:||Wilson Kinyua & Another v Republic  eKLR|
|Advocates:||Ole Kaparo for Wilson. S K Njuguna for Ibrahim. JE Gicheru State Counsel for the Republic.|
|Case History:||(Appeal against decision by Cockar J in the High Court, Meru, on 15th October 1979 in Criminal Case No 11 of 1979)|
|Parties Profile:||Individual v Government|
|Advocates:||Ole Kaparo for Wilson. S K Njuguna for Ibrahim. JE Gicheru State Counsel for the Republic.|
Wilson Kinyua and Ibrahim M’Inanga v Republic
Court of Appeal, Nyeri
10th November 1980
Madan, Miller & Potter JJ A
Criminal Appeal No 70 of 1980
Criminal law – evidence – confession - taking into consideration against co-accused - confession not suitable as basis for prosecution case - Evidence Act (cap 80), section 32(1).
Criminal law – evidence – corroboration - retracted confession - desirability of corroboration - no corroboration - trial judge acting on retracted confession without satisfying himself unhesitatingly that it was true.
W and I were arrested and charged with the murder of the deceased, whose burnt body had been discovered in a forest. Both made charge and caution statements. In his statement, W denied any involvement in the killing. I,however, admitted that he had been involved in the murder and further stated that W, who had paid for his help, had also been involved. At their trial the prosecution adduced evidence that W and I had been seen with the deceased some days before the body had been found. After a trial within a trial I’s confession statement was admitted in evidence, although he claimed that he had been tortured by the police. The prosecution adduced no other material evidence relating to the murder. In an unsworn statement in Court, I said that he lived in another place and had not been away from it at the time of the murder. W also made an unsworn statement in which he again denied any involvement in the murder. The trial judge found that the facts pointed overwhelmingly and conclusively to the guilt of W and I. However, he did not look for any corroboration of I’s statement, despite his repudiation of it, and also ruled that it could be taken into consideration (under section 32(1) of the Evidence Act) against W. Both W and I were convicted of murder and appealed.
The appeal would be allowed, because:
Cases referred to in judgment:
Wilson Kinyua and Ibrahim M’Inanga appealed to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Appeal No 70 of 1980) against their conviction and sentence for murder by Cockar J in the High Court, Meru, on 15th October 1979 in Criminal Case No 11 of 1979. The facts are set out in the judgment of the court delivered by Madan JA.
Ole Kaparo for Wilson.
S K Njuguna for Ibrahim.
JE Gicheru State Counsel for the Republic.
|History Advocates:||Both Parties Represented|
|Case Outcome:||Appeals allowed.|
|Disclaimer:||The information contained in the above segment is not part of the judicial opinion delivered by the Court. The metadata has been prepared by Kenya Law as a guide in understanding the subject of the judicial opinion. Kenya Law makes no warranties as to the comprehensiveness or accuracy of the information|
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
(Coram: Madan, Miller & Potter JJ A0
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO 70 OF 1980
WILSON KINYUA ...........................................1ST APPELLANT
IBRAHIM M’INANGA ......................................2ND APPELLANT
(Appeal against decision by Cockar J in the High Court, Meru, on 15th October 1979 in Criminal Case No 11 of 1979)
JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
These two appeals which we have consolidated, are against convictions for murder, contrary to section 204 of the Penal Code.
The deceased, Antonio M’Ibaya, during his lifetime was the registered owner of a parcel of land known as Nzaki/Munithu/1128. The first appellant, Wilson, claimed that it was a portion of land which the deceased had agreed to sell to him. Wilson had filed a suit against the deceased during his life-time in the Court of the Resident Magistrate, Meru, for specific performance of the agreement of sale of the land. The suit was fixed for hearing on 12th June 1978.
Towards the end of March 1978 Wilson and the second appellant, Ibrahim, spent a night at Mutuati where the deceased lived with his second wife, Veronica. In the early hours of the next morning the two appellants asked for directions and were shown the way to the deceased’s house where Wilson asked the deceased to accompany them to Meru, so that they could settle the case between them in Court. The deceased went with them. The three got on to a bus going towards Lare. From Lare the deceased was seen by Maria Mwaringu going towards Kangeta with some others in a Land Rover. Cockar J erroneously said in his judgment that Maria confirmed the presence of the deceased and his visitors at Lare. Maria did not claim to have seen or known the deceased’s visitors.
Some ten days later the burnt remains of a human body with some items of clothing were found in nearby Kangare Forest. The surrounding area had been set on fire. There was a human skull among the dead bones. The judge found that the items of clothing and the human remains were those of the deceased.
Wilson was arrested on 12th June 1978 in the court building at Meru. Ibrahim was arrested on 9th July 1978 at Kibirichia. They were both charged with the murder of the deceased, tried and convicted.
Before their arraignment in Court both appellants had made charge and caution statements to the police. Ibrahim’s statement was admitted in evidence after a trial within a trial. Wilson said in his statement that he did not and could not have killed the deceased who was his friend since 1961, and whom he had not seen since 20th February 1978.
Ibrahim told the police that he met Wilson in his butchery at Isiolo. After a discussion and an offer of payment of Shs 200 by Wilson, he agreed to help Wilson to kill the deceased at Mutuati because the deceased had refused to give Wilson the shamba which he had sold to him. Wilson paid him Shs 200. After spending a night at Mutuati they went to the deceased’s house on next morning. Wilson asked the deceased to accompany him because he wanted them to change the hearing date of the case. The deceased agreed. The three of them left together and boarded a bus going towards Lare, where they alighted and got into another vehicle. They finally reached Ngunduni in the evening of the same day. Wilson who had a basket went into a canteen and came out with a rope. They began to walk. Wilson took out a panga from the basket, cut the rope into two and tied the deceased’s hands behind his back. They walked on and entered a thick forest at Kangere. Wilson gave the basket to Ibrahim to hold it, pulled the deceased into the forest and knocked him down. Ibrahim said that he put the basket down and held the deceased’s legs. Wilson cut the deceased’s neck with the panga while Ibrahim held his legs. Ibrahim then took a stone and hit the deceased on the head. Wilson threw the stone into a river nearby. He told Ibrahim to go home; Ibrahim did so, leaving Wilson there with the panga, the basket and a torch. On the following morning Wilson gave him the panga, to keep until his return from Nairobi. Ibrahim said that he hid the panga in his home as Wilson had told him to do.
In his unsworn statement in Court Wilson said that he did not know anything about this case. He was arrested in the law Courts where he had come for his work. He was told after ten days that he had killed someone. He was very surprised because he had not killed anyone. He was not shown the dead person or the place where he died.
In his unsworn statement in Court Ibrahim said that he stayed at home the whole of the last year. He did not go on any safari. He was arrested by Mbabu because of a grudge. Both the person who died and Wilson came from Munithu. He came from Tigania. He knew nothing about this case. That was all.
Cockar J in his judgment said:
The prosecution case is that the two [appellants] on the way murdered the deceased put his body in a bush and set fire to the deceased’s body …
The charge and caution statement of the second [appellant) was a confession which he repudiated.
The facts proved by the prosecution evidence overwhelmingly and conclusively point to the two [appellants] being guilty. The proved facts leave the deceased’s death incapable of any and other reasonable explanation ...
The second [appellant] described in the charge and caution statement the part he took in the actual murder. It is a confession which can be taken into consideration against the first [appellant] also.
With respect to the judge, there were no facts proved by the prosecution evidence which overwhelmingly and conclusively pointed to the two appellants being guilty of the murder of the deceased. All that the prosecution evidence proved was that the two appellants and the deceased were last seen together at Lare. Then there was a lacuna created by the absence of any actual or acceptable circumstantial evidence of who may have killed the deceased. There was a hiatus, a total black-out, between the deceased being seen with the appellants at Lare and the discovery of the deceased’s burnt body in Kangere forest. Then came Ibrahim’s confession, which he repudiated. Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act provides:
When more persons than one are being tried jointly for the same offence, and a confession made by one of such persons affecting himself and some other of such persons is proved, the Court may take the confession into consideration as against such other person as well as against the person who made the confession.
The Court may only take the confession into consideration against a coaccused. A confession by an accused person involving his co-accused when unsupported by other testimony, is evidence of the weakest kind against such co-accused. It is accomplice evidence needing corroboration; the need for corroboration being the greater when the maker of the statement has sought to retract it; see Anyuma s/o Omolo v R (1953) 20 EACA 218. Under section 32(1) of the Evidence Act the evidential value of a confession by an accused person is that it can only be used as lending assurance to other evidence against the co-accused, evidence which narrowly falls short of the standard of proof for a conviction. It cannot be used as the basis of the prosecution case, see Gopa s/o Gidamebanya v R (1953) 20 EACA 318 and Muthigo s/o Mwigai v R (1954) 21 EACA 267. More recently we followed Muthigo s/o Mwigai v R in Odhiambo v The Republic (1980) (unreported.)
With respect, the judge took into consideration Ibrahim’s confession making it the basis for Wilson’s conviction in a background of non-existent prosecution evidence in so far as the deceased’s actual murder by Wilson was concerned. It is right to exclude the evidence in the confession against this appellant. The conviction of the appellant Wilson cannot be sustained. It is quashed and the sentence set aside.
We think that section 32(1) of the Evidence Act could be repealed profitably. A co-accused against whom a confession is taken into consideration has no opportunity of cross-examining when the maker does not give evidence or makes an unsworn statement in Court. In England it is a fundamental rule of evidence that statements made by one defendant either to the police or to others (other than statements, whether in the presence or absence of a co-accused, made in the course and pursuance of a joint criminal enterprise to which the co-defendant was a party) are not evidence against a co-accused unless the co-accused either expressly or by implication adopts the statements and thereby makes them his own; see R v Rudd (1948) 32 Cr App Rep 138.
We now consider the appeal of Ibrahim. We have pointed out that the statement made by him to the police was admitted in evidence after a trial within a trial, the allegation being that Ibrahim was tortured by the police into making the confession. Mr Ole Kaparo and Mr Njuguna who jointly argued these appeals on behalf of the appellants made the disturbing submission that the Courts in Kenya accept as gospel truth whatever the police say in their evidence in Court. We like counsel to give expression to their feelings of criticism connected with the administration of justice boldly and without fear. We are, however, glad to be able to say that what these two counsel said is not borne out by our experience. The Courts of justice in Kenya do not have an amoral approach. Their approach is independent, just and impartial.
Ibrahim’s statement was admitted in evidence after a trial within a trial. The judge was entitled to do so, after making his own assessment of the evidence which he did.
Ibrahim repudiated the statement. In Tuwamoi v Uganda  EA 84 the former Court of Appeal said that a trial court should accept with caution a confession which has been retracted or repudiated, or both retracted and repudiated, and must be fully satisfied that in all the circumstances of the case the confession is true. The Court further said (at page 91) that the same standard of proof is required in all cases and usually a Court will only act on the confession if corroborated in some material particular by independent evidence accepted by the Court. But corroboration is not necessary in law and the Court may act on a confession alone if it is fully satisfied, after considering all the material points and surrounding circumstances, that the confession cannot but be true. We said in Ogero Omurwa v The Republic  Kenya LR 241 that if a statement is retracted, it should be an unfailing practice for the Court to look for corroboration of the material particulars in the statement unless the Court is able to come to the unhesitating conclusion that the confession is true.
State counsel properly conceded that in this case the trial judge neither looked for corroboration nor did he warn himself of the necessity of considering all the material points and circumstances that the confession could not but be true. We cannot say that had the judge done so he would have come to the same conclusion. The conviction of Ibrahim is also quashed and the sentence set aside.
DATED and delivered at Nyeri this 10th day of November 1980.
JUDGE OF APPEAL
JUDGE OF APPEAL
JUDGE OF APPEAL
I certify that this is a true copy of the original