Death penalty for nurse in fatal abortion

Jackson Namunya Tali at the High Court in Nairobi on Thursday. The nurse was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of killing Ms Christine Atieno and her unborn baby in a botched abortion. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU |

What you need to know:

  • Justice Nicholas Ombija ruled that Jackson Namunya Tali, 41, was solely responsible for the death of Christine Atieno.
  • After realising that the operation went wrong and that the teenager was losing her life, Mr Tali draped her in bed sheets and wanted to transfer her to another hospital. The mission failed as the girl died on the way inside the car.

An abortion attempt that led to the death of a teenage girl has earned a nurse the death sentence.

Justice Nicholas Ombija ruled that Jackson Namunya Tali, 41, was solely responsible for the death of Christine Atieno.

His attempt to secure the girl an abortion at Gachie shopping centre in the outskirts of Nairobi led to her death, the judge ruled.

“The accused person has been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. He has killed two people; a foetus and a mother. The only sentence available in law is the death penalty, which I hand down to him,” Mr Ombija ruled.

Mr Tali is a licensed community nurse registered with the National Nurses Association of Kenya.

Justice Ombija’s decision came with a warning to backstreet clinics involved in abortion. Once the law catches up with them, there will be no option but to hand down the maximum sentence, he said.

The prosecution witnesses’ evidence on the circumstances under which Christine met her death was consistent and credible, the judge said, adding that the accused’s defence that he only tried to help the girl after she started bleeding in his clinic was an open lie.

“There is no doubt that the deceased visited his MP Medical Clinic and Laboratory Services at Gachie Market in Kiambu County on July 27, 2009, after which he secured her an abortion which ultimately led to her death,” the judge said.

EARLY PREGNANCY

According to the evidence, Christine visited her aunt, Ms Grace Achieng’ Omino, at Gachie shopping centre when she was in the early stages of a pregnancy that she apparently wanted to abort. She later visited Mr Tali’s clinic with the intention of aborting.

“The evidence shows that the abortion was procured at the clinic. After the process went awry, the deceased started bleeding which led to anaemia and her subsequent death. In the premise, malice aforethought as an ingredient of the offence of murder has been established against the accused,” ruled Ombija.

He said that on the fateful day, Christine’s uncle was informed that his niece was not feeling well and had gone to the clinic for check-up.

He followed her to the clinic to find out what was wrong with her, but when he reached, he heard screams that he recognised as those of his niece. He inquired about the problem, but was assured by Mr Tali that all was well and that his niece would be released shortly.

Later in the evening, he called the nurse to inquire what had happened since his niece had not returned, but his phone was switched off.

BECAME SUSPICIOUS

After realising that the operation had gone wrong and that the teenager was losing her life, Mr Tali draped her in bed sheets and wanted to transfer her to another hospital. The mission failed as the girl died on the way inside the car.

To conceal his actions, Mr Tali called police to report that a patient had died while he was taking her to hospital.

“Police became suspicious after noticing the body draped in blood-soaked sheets. They immediately visited the clinic and found one of the workers mopping the floor hurriedly to conceal the evidence,” Justice Ombija said.

The judge added that a clinic employee confirmed in her testimony that the accused performed the abortion and that he had done the same to another teenage girl, which went well within the same week.

That the girl visited the clinic was not disputed. “The only question is who interfered with the foetus? It is only the accused who can answer since he attempted to secure the abortion. His statement does not suggest the opposite and the circumstances cannot exempt him from blame,” the judge said.

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