The High Court in Nyeri has sentenced Collins Pemba, the man who assisted a former Kenya Defence Forces soldier dispose of the bodies of his wife and two children in Nanyuki to five years in jail.
In her judgment on Thursday, Justice Florence Muchemi ruled that she was convinced that Collins Pamba, a casual labourer at the Laikipia Airbase, had been acting under the instructions of Mr Peter Mugure, the prime suspect in the three murders.
She found that as a junior worker at the airbase, Pamba had been overwhelmed by the instructions from the senior military officer.
"In addition to the orders given to him by the senior military officer asking him to commit the act, the accused was also threatened,” said Justice Muchemi.
The judge noted that last year, in an affidavit, the investigating officer had said that Major Mugure had sent his sister Nancy Mugure to visit Pamba at Kerugoya Prison to ask him to recant his confession.
In her ruling, Ms Muchemi also cited that the Director of Public Prosecutions and the accused’s lawyer Lucy Mwai had presented convincing mitigating factors that she considered while delivering the sentence.
The judge also said that she considered the accused’s age noting that he was 21 years then.
The prosecution led by Duncan Ondimu had told the court that Pamba had cooperated with the police in conducting investigations.
He said that since his arrest on November 16, 2019 he had disclosed very useful information concerning Mr Mugure by recording a confession.
“Even while he was still in remand at the Kerugoya Prison when there were attempts to interfere with the investigations by the prime suspect, he notified the prison authorities. This clearly shows that he is remorseful and ready to integrate with the society,” said Mr Ondimu.
Triple murder charges
A plea-bargaining agreement presented in court signed by both the prosecution and the accused showed that Pamba had agreed to testify against Ex-major Mugure.
This was on the condition that the prosecution dropped the triple murder charges that he was facing and substituted them for a lesser offence of accessory to murder.
Pamba would also be expected to cooperate by being interviewed by the police.
He also agreed not to disclose any information and materials in his possession regarding the matter.
Pamba was also not allowed to sue the State for compensation for the days he has spent in prison.
Should he, however, breach the agreement by giving false information, the State will prosecute him for perjury.
During the court session, Lawyer Mwai told the court that Pamba had just completed form four when he allegedly committed the offence.
He had been connected by a relative working at the Laikipia Airbase to do menial jobs.
His job entailed cleaning verandas at the premises and occasionally washing the military officers’ residences.
“On the fateful day, he had just been invited by the senior officer to do his work as usual, he did not know what awaited him,” said lawyer Mwai.
Closed the door
Upon entering Mugure’s room A3, Mugure closed the door and put the keys in his pocket before switching on the lights. Pamba then saw the body of Mugure’s wife Joyce Syombua wrapped in a gunny bag.
Mugure asked him to assist in ferrying the bodies and even threatened to kill him.
After ferrying the body of Ms Syombua to Mugure’s car, they went back to another room where they collected the bodies of Mugure’s children Prince Michael and Shanice Maua.
He helped in wrapping the two bodies and transporting them to the car before they buried them in shallow graves. Ms Mwai said that even after the incident, Mugure continued threatening Pamba.
According to the lawyer, Pamba had committed the offence out of desperation and fear of the senior officer.
The court heard that the accused was the first born in a family of four siblings in Busia County and had only gone to Nanyuki searching for greener pastures.
“Mugure had even promised him a place in the military if he helped in carrying out the devious task and concealing the incident,” said the lawyer.