Canadian missionary faces land fraud charges

Sheppard Nelson Jason

Sheppard Nelson Jason in the dock on May 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

A Canadian missionary has been charged with land fraud.

Sheppard Nelson Jason, who appeared before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina, is facing five counts of forgery.

Jason was accused of conspiring to defraud Jeremiah Muuya Sailoji and Rhodah Anne Baxter of their Sh60 million land.

The magistrate heard that Jason claimed that the land had been transferred to him by Jeremiah and Rhoda, which he knew to be false.

Among other charges, Jason is accused of forging the title deed to the vast piece of land on 31 May 2012.

The missionary was also accused of transferring the property into his own name.

In addition, the expatriate pastor was accused of forging a letter of consent signed by Sailoji on 5 June 2012 and making it appear genuine.

In applying for bail, Jason said he was not a fugitive as he ran a children's home and had invested heavily in the country.

A defence lawyer told the court that the accused duly acquired the disputed property in 2012.

"My client has developed the property and it is the home of 85 destitute children," the judge heard.

The lawyer also submitted that the complainant had at some point been an employee of the organisation.

Saijalon, the court heard, worked at the institution until 2020, when the contract was terminated.

The court heard that after the contract was terminated, the complainant changed his mind and began to reclaim the disputed land.

While praying for lenient bail conditions for Jason, the lawyer told the court that the accused was not a man of great means but relied solely on donations from well-wishers.

He added that the defendant's incarceration would adversely affect the lives of the 85 children in his care.

"The accused has a fixed abode and has been in the country for more than 10 years, he also lives with 85 children in the premises of the organisations. He cannot therefore escape the jurisdiction of the country," Onyina said.

The petitioner, however, disputed the submissions of the defence lawyer that the accused had been uncooperative and posed a flight risk because he was a foreigner.

In granting the bail application, Onyina dismissed the prosecution's contention that the defendant could interfere with witnesses.

He said there was no substance to the allegations that he was a flight risk and granted him bail in the sum of Sh200,000.

He said the prosecution had not filed a supporting affidavit.

"The issues raised by the appellant are unsubstantiated allegations that can only be treated as speculations in the absence of any supporting affidavit, the accused is hereby released on a cash bail of Sh200,000 and a Kenyan contact person," ruled Onyina.

Onyina ordered the prosecution led by Anderson Gikunda to provide the accused with witness statements and fixed 9 June 2023 for his preliminary hearing.