Aristocrat Tom Cholmondeley dies at a city hospital

Wednesday August 17 2016

Tom Cholmondeley (right) meets Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua during the launch of the Buffalo Mall in Naivasha town. Mr Cholmondeley died in a Nairobi hospital on August 17, 2016.

Tom Cholmondeley (right) meets Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua during the launch of the Buffalo Mall in Naivasha town. Mr Cholmondeley died in a Nairobi hospital on August 17, 2016. PHOTO | JOYCE KIMANI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN KAMAU
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By EUNICE KILONZO
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Tom Cholmondeley, son of the fifth Lord Delamere, died on Wednesday while receiving treatment at MP Shah Hospital.

MP Shah Hospital chief executive officer Anup Das said Mr Cholmondeley, 48, died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday afternoon at 2.15pm as he recovered from hip replacement surgery at the facility.

Mr Das said: “He was admitted on Tuesday as a private patient — that is admitted by visiting doctors — in our facility and he underwent the surgery. He was recovering at the Intensive Care Unit when he developed cardiac arrest and died.”

Mr Cholmondeley was the great-grandson of the third Lord Delamere, one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya.

In April 2005, Mr Cholmondeley shot and killed a Kenya Wildlife Service game ranger at his expansive Soysambu ranch, near Lake Naivasha.

The British aristocrat was jailed in May 2009 for killing stonemason Robert Njoya.

He was sent to Kamiti Maximum Security Prison and was released in October that year after serving eight months for manslaughter.

Tom Cholmondeley, son of the fifth Lord Delamere, died on August 17, 2016 while receiving treatment at MP Shah Hospital.

Tom Cholmondeley, son of the fifth Lord Delamere, died on August 17, 2016 while receiving treatment at MP Shah Hospital. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SH5 BILLION ESTATE

Mr Cholmondeley left a Sh5 billion estate in Naivasha and bade farewell to the title of sixth Baron Delamere when he died on Wednesday.

Before he was thrust into the national limelight in May 2006, when he was arrested for killing Robert Njoya, a resident of a village that borders the Delamere family’s expansive 50,000-plus acre Soysambu Estate and a no-go-zone for locals, Mr Cholmondeley led a reclusive life, separated from his wife and two sons.

That day, Mr Njoya and other villagers had gone hunting at Soysambu when they came across Mr Cholmondeley, who had a Winchester rifle.

He was with veteran rally driver Carl Tundo, who was seeking to lease part of the ranch for a bio-diesel and agro-forestry project. 

Without provocation, Mr Cholmondeley shot Mr Njoya and a dog as the other villagers fled.

The arrest of Mr Cholmondeley not only brought back memories of the colonial Happy Valley, where privileged playboys and British aristocrats engaged in all manner of vice — later dramatised in the movie White Mischief — but also triggered a national furore.

Literary critic Cyril Connolly summed up life in Happy Valley as consisting of three As — attitude, alcohol and adultery.

Mr Njoya’s death was the second killing committed by Mr Cholmondeley and it sparked some fear in the 30,000-strong white community that still operates businesses and owns big farms in the countryside.

In 2005, Mr Cholmondeley had been accused of killing Samson ole Sisina, a Kenya Wildlife Service warden, who had ventured onto his farm to investigate illegal trade in bush meat.

An old Etonian, Mr Cholmondeley was known for wearing cravats and walking around Soysambu armed with a Luger pistol, scaring away any intruder who ventured in.

He had 10 licensed firearms and several temporary permits for his workers.

Mr Cholmondeley's death leaves the Delamere properties under the care of his 80-year-old father, Lord Hugh Cholmondeley, the fifth Baron Delamere and throws the title succession into limbo. 

Three years ago, and for the first time, the Delamere Estate was subdivided as the aristocrats created two separate companies, Ng’ombe Limited and Land Limited, to manage the livestock and real estate business, respectively.

Mr Cholmondeley was regarded as the face of these entities as the scion of Kenya’s most famous white settler family.

Once married to Nairobi doctor Sally Brewerton, with whom he had two sons, Mr Cholmondeley’s divorce was finalised after he left the Kamiti prison in 2010 and was to marry jewellery designer Sally Dudmesh, the woman who sat by his side during the murder trial. Every week, for three years, Ms Dudmesh visited Mr Cholmondeley in prison.

Mr Cholmondeley was the last of the ghosts of Happy Valley.