Phone money transfer suspect gets death sentence

Phone-related crime has become rampant in Kenya because millions of people own mobile handsets. Photo/ANTHONY KAMAU

An M-Pesa transaction was the key piece of evidence that nailed a suspect in a robbery with violence case.

A court said the fact that cash was transferred from the victim’s phone to that of Francis Ndung’u Njoroge was proof that he was involved in the crime.

Nyahururu senior resident magistrate Alice Mong’are sentenced Njoroge to death. Phone-related crime has become rampant in Kenya because millions of people own mobile handsets.

But while police have used phone signals to track down and arrest suspected criminals in the past, this is the first time a cash transfer transaction was being used as evidence in a robbery with violence case.

Ms Mong’are commended the use of modern technology to track criminals. The technology, she said, was crucial in proving cases against the accused.

The prosecution said detectives who had been trailing Njoroge pounced on him in Subukia where he was still using the victim’s phone.

Ms Mong’are said police had proved the case against the accused after they tracked him for more than a month before raiding his house in Subukia, Nakuru county.

His victim’s SIM card was found, as well as several personal items.

Njoroge had earlier denied raiding Mr Francis Macharia’s house jointly with others not in court on March 22, last year.

They stole Sh66,800, a mobile phone and assorted items all valued at Sh102,833.

Mr Macharia’s family reported the robbery to the police the following day, March 23.

Investigations started and a report was also made at Safaricom offices where it was discovered that Mr Macharia’s phone was still in use.

Police and Safaricom officials tracked the signal to Subukia where Njoroge was arrested. He led them to his house where a SIM card and other items belonging to Mr Macharia were found.

Ms Mong’are said the items clearly showed that the accused was involved in the robbery. She also said the court found no other evidence to make it think otherwise.

She commended police for going out of their way to confirm the identity of the accused after he refused to produce an identity card when he was escorted to his house.

“The suspect declined to produce an identity card saying it was lost, prompting police to conduct a search in his house.

“During the search, an ATM card bearing his names was recovered as well as some treatment notes bearing the same name,” said the magistrate.

Fingerprints sent to Nairobi for analysis also confirmed that he was the one who withdrew money using his identity card as indicated in the transaction slip.

Demanded pin number

In his evidence, the victim said one of the four gangsters demanded to know how much money was in his M-Pesa account and when he was told it had Sh14,300, he demanded the pin number.

“The gangster transferred the money to his account two minutes later and on the following day, Mr Macharia made a report to Safaricom care centre and investigations began,” noted the court.

Mr Macharia’s wife also heard him give out his pin number but declined to give out hers saying she did not have an M-Pesa account.

The court noted that the time that lapsed during the robbery and when the money was transferred showed clearly that the phone owner was present at the scene of crime.


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