Former cargo company manager sentenced to 30 years for killing KDF officer

Richard Mwangi Mugo has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Milimani High Court

Richard Mwangi Mugo has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Milimani High Court for the murder of KDF officer John Machimbo Litala,  on the Eastern Bypass on December 3, 2018.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

A former manager of a Dutch cargo company based at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) began serving a 30-year jail term on Friday for murdering a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officer four years ago.

Richard Mwangi Mugo, 58, was handed the sentence on Friday by Milimani High Court Judge Daniel Ogembo, who convicted him of murdering John Machimbo Litala, then aged 55, on the Eastern Bypass in Njiru in the early hours of December 3, 2018.

Before his arrest and prosecution, Mugo was a senior operations manager at Swiss Port Kenya Limited, a Dutch cargo company based at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Before killing the KDF officer, Mugo, a father of three, had transferred Sh10,700 from the victim's mobile phone to his.

Mugo transferred the money to another number belonging to Dennis Karima Gachoka.

The judge said signals from the former KDF officer's phone and Mugo's placed them together at the scene of the crime.

Justice Ogembo said it could not have been a coincidence that Mugo was with the victim at the scene of the crime if he was not the killer.

Justice Ogembo dismissed Mugo's claim of being robbed of his mobile phone on the night of the murder, noting that he did not report the theft to the police or confirm his alibi. Justice Ogembo said the killers of the former Warrant Officer 1, who was posted to the Department of Defence (DoD), inflicted pain on him so that he would reveal his M-Pesa pin for the transfer of the money.

Before transferring the money, the accused and his accomplices subjected the deceased to severe violence and pain as he resisted their demands.

Died a painful death

“The deceased herein died a painful death. His hands and elbows were severely injured to immobilise him. When found, the body of the deceased lay down with his hands and legs tied,” ruled Justice Ogembo.

All his personal belongings, including his army uniform, job card, November 2018 pay slip, identity card and credit cards, were next to his body.

The judge said, “Obviously in killing the deceased, the accused had intention to kill.”

He said the prosecution led by Ms Mercy Njoroge had therefore sufficiently proved the element of "malice aforethought against the accused".

Mugo had denied that on December 3, 2018, along the Eastern Bypass in Kiathieko area, Ruai Location, Njiru sub-county, he and others not before the court murdered John Machimbo Litala.

Ms Njoroge called 10 witnesses while Mugo, who was defended by lawyer Gordon Ogado, called his wife Margaret Wangare, a second-hand clothes seller and a truck driver as defence witnesses.

Lanet Army Barracks

Testifying in court, Machimbo's widow Alice Chiteyi Luyeku and two sons, Jeremiah Bagi and Abraham Lincoln, told the judge that they accompanied him from Lanet Army Barracks where they lived at 7pm on December 2, 2018.

The woman said Machimbo arrived in Nairobi at 11pm and called her but he did not go to DoD. The next call she received was that her husband was dead.

Machimbo had received a phone call ordering him to report to the Department of Defence (DoD) immediately.

Machimbo had only spent one day with his family at Lanet Barracks where they lived, as he had gone home on November 31, 2018.

He rode a motorbike from the main gate of Lanet Barracks to the main bus station to catch a bus to Nairobi.

He said goodbye to his loved ones, promising to call them as soon as he arrived in Nairobi.

It was the last time they saw him alive. The next call his wife Alice Chiteyi Luyeku received from her brother-in-law Josephat Mboyi Litala was that her husband was dead.

Obtain call records

To prove the murder, police used Machimbo's mobile phone number to obtain call records from the mobile phone company.

Investigating officer Benjamin Mumo discovered that Sh10,700 had been transferred from his number to the convict's phone number.

The money was transferred at 5.09am, the time Machimbo was killed.

Although Mugo denied killing Machimbo, Justice Ogembo said the call details placed him at the scene of the crime.

"The prosecution led by Ms Mercy Njoroge has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. I convict him accordingly," ruled the judge.

The judge rejected the defendant's plea for a non-custodial sentence, saying "he brutally ended the life of an innocent person".

He was given 14 days to appeal.