The High Court in Nanyuki has freed a man sentenced to life imprisonment in 2019 for defiling a nine-year old child, ruling that the charge sheet used in his conviction was faulty.
Justice Hatari Waweru acquitted Mr Anthony Munene of two counts of defilement, noting that he was charged with the wrong sexual offence in the first count and that there were mistakes in the name of the complainant in the second count.
Mr Munene had been accused in a magistrate’s court of contravening Section 8 (1), (3) of the Sexual Offences Act in the first count and Section 11 (1) in the second.
He allegedly defiled a minor aged between 12 and 15, drawing the charges from Section 8 (1) and (3), which attract a jail term of more than 20 years.
But Justice Waweru found it absurd that the trial court had established that the age of the complainant was nine yet in the charge sheet the suspect was accused of defiling a child aged between 12 and 15.
“Despite age being one of the ingredients in the punishment of sexual offences, the charge sheet against the accused was never amended during trial,” the judge said.
He added that the charge sheet should have cited Section 8 (2) of the Sexual Offences Act, under which convicts get life imprisonment.
During sentencing, the judge noted that Mr Munene was imprisoned on the correct charges and found that the magistrate relied on section 8 (2) of the Act.
“And so, as per the first count of the charge sheet, the appellant had expected a jail term of 20 years’ imprisonment or more and not the heavy life sentence handed to him,” he said.
In the second count, Mr Munene was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for committing an indecent act with a child below 11 years, contrary to Section 11 (1) of the Act.
But Justice Waweru quashed the sentence, noting that there were mistakes in the name of the complainant in that count.
He said the name of the complainant on the charge sheet was different from that of the person who testified in court.
Mr Munene allegedly committed the offence on October 30, 2015 in Nanyuki. He was sentenced on July 30, 2019 but appealed to the High Court.