Court finds two former Mama Lucy Hospital workers guilty of selling babies

Selina Adundo Awour (left) and Fred Leparan

Selina Adundo Awour (left) and  Fred Leparan who were charged with trafficking three children.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Two former social workers at Mama Lucy Hospital have been convicted of trafficking children two years ago following an exposé by an international media house. 

Fred Leparan and Selina Awuor Adundo were charged with stealing and selling babies at a varying cost of between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000.

Delivering the judgment, Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Esther Kimilu said "all the elements of conspiracy to commit an offence were proved beyond reasonable doubt against Fred Leparan".

The magistrate said the prosecution had proved that Leparan held three meetings where the court concluded that the discussion in the meetings was for the sale of a child. 

She added that one transaction took place after the meetings with a Rose, who was given three children.

"My finding is that the first accused (Leparan) is guilty of conspiracy to commit an offence and count two of trafficking in persons," the judge ruled.

However, the second defendant, Selina Adundo, was acquitted of the two charges because she was not mentioned in any of the footage broadcast by the BBC.

Adundo and Leparan were convicted on the third count of negligence.

The judge said there was evidence that the medical social worker's office at Mama Lucy Hospital did not inform the Embakasi Children's Home about the stolen babies.

She noted that a witness from Embakasi denied being informed about the three abandoned children.

"The normal procedure is for the children's home to be informed of any children that are abandoned or received at the facility," the magistrate said.

Leparan was also found to have abused his office by handing over the children to unauthorised persons. It was clear that he was involved in child fraud and trafficking.

Defence lawyer Danstan Omari, who was defending the accused, applied for a bail and probation report and an extension of the existing bail/bond for the accused until the sentencing. However, the prosecution opposed the application and sought an earlier date for mitigation and sentencing.

The court refused to extend the defendants' bail pending the pre-sentence report.

"As the accused have been convicted, their bail is revoked. They will be remanded in prison custody," ordered Mutuku. They will be remanded in custody at Industrial Area and Langata Women respectively. 

The court set September 26 as the date for sentencing after hearing mitigating arguments from defence lawyer Danstan Omari.

In his defence, Leparan denied receiving Sh300,000 from a BBC journalist for selling babies at the facility. Leparan was charged with five counts of stealing children and running a child trafficking syndicate at the hospital. I

n his defence before Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Esther Kimilu, he told the court that all legal procedures had been followed in relation to the three children allegedly abandoned at the hospital.

He said he had never been involved in the illegal sale of babies at the hospital. During the trial, a journalist from an international media house told how he exposed a child trafficking scam at Nairobi's Mama Lucy Hospital in 2020. Peter Murimi, 42, from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), who testified virtually, explained how a social worker at the hospital, Fred Leparan, sold a baby boy to a childless woman for Sh300,000.

In the case, lawyer Kigen Robison held a brief for the BBC, who were the whistleblowers.

Murimi, director and producer of the BBC documentary 'The Baby Stealers', told the court that Sh300,000 was put on the table at the request of Leparan, who pocketed the money. "The fact that Fred does have the confidence to receive the money, which is the proceeds of the sale of a child, but still pockets it, confirms that he understands the illegal nature of what he is doing," said Murimi.

The witness told the court that Leparan did not want the "client" to go to the hospital to collect the child for fear of arousing suspicion.

He said that when the baby was handed over to the interested party, who was waiting in a car outside the hospital, Leparan expressed fears that his colleagues would become suspicious. Ms Kimilu said from the video analysis that Leparan negotiated the sale of the babies and then ensured they were discharged from the hospital before handing them over to the "buyers".