Policeman escapes jail in theft of Sh283,000 - Daily Nation

Policeman cleared for lack of proof in Sh283,000 theft case

Friday September 7 2018

Money

The prosecution said that on March 3, 2014, two employees of Premier Flour were robbed of money at gun point between Samburu and Taru on Mombasa-Nairobi highway. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

A police officer accused of stealing Sh283,000, that was recovered from robbery suspects, has escaped jail.

A Mombasa court has acquitted Mr Job Ouma but it is still unclear how the money disappeared from Taru police station in Kwale County.

NO PROOF

Mr Ouma walked to freedom after the prosecution failed to give strong evidence to support the three counts of stealing and destruction of evidence that he faced.

“I find that the prosecution has failed to prove all the three counts against the accused, find him not guilty of all the counts and acquit him. The suspect’s surety is accordingly discharged," Resident Magistrate Edgar Kagoni said.

Mr Ouma was charged with stealing the money between October 16, 2014 and October 10, 2016. The prosecution said the money belonged to Premier Flour Mills Limited.

The officer was also charged with having forged papers that he allegedly intended to pass as special papers in making bank currency notes worth that amount.

The officer faced another charge of destroying evidence, the prosecution saying he replaced the amount with fake notes knowing it would be required for use as evidence.

THE ROBBERY

The prosecution said that on March 3, 2014, two employees of Premier Flour were robbed of money at gun point between Samburu and Taru on Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

The victims had been travelling from Oloitoktok to Mombasa, after delivering goods, when they were blocked by another vehicle which had four occupants.

The occupants, who had pistols, ordered them to lie down and surrender everything they had before speeding away with their Sh418,0000.

Four suspects were later arrested at Mariakani Weigh bridge and Sh288,000 recovered. They were charged at a Kaloleni court with robbery with violence.

It was during hearing of the case that it was discovered that the notes were fake. A further probe by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and Kenya Commercial bank confirmed that Sh283 of the Sh1,000 notes delivered to the court were fake.

CHAIN OF CUSTODY

Mr Ouma was arrested and charged because, according to Taru OCS Chief Inspector Henry Wesonga, he had custody of the cash all along and was the one who took it to court.

He admitted to taking the money to court but said an officer in charge of the armoury at Taru police station handed it to him. He said the gave the money to the investigating officer.

The officer denied committing the offence, submitting that there was no evidence of the kind of money that was handed to him.

In his ruling, the magistrate said the prosecution should have established the chain of custody of the money recovered from the four robbery suspects. He also noted a dispute regarding the recovery of the money at the time of arrest.

Magistrate Kagoni further said that from the evidence, it was clear the cash recovered was not serialised and that it appeared no inventory was made after the recovery.

“The issue in question is where the Sh288,000 was before the accused person presented it in court. To get to this, there has to be a clear chain of custody showing who handled the cash, on what date and in which state,” Mr Kagoni said.

The magistrate also noted that occurrence book extracts produced in court do not provide a clear chain of custody thus it is difficult to implicate the suspect.

“It is only after evidence is presented, that the accused person was indeed given genuine Sh288,000, that he can be said to have replaced it with fakes or that he knew he was presenting in court fake currency to be used as exhibits."

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