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Gardener sentenced to death for killing Jacobus Van Der Goes

Saturday October 27 2018

Stephen Okoth, Joseph Ogolla and John Ochieng

Stephen Okoth, Joseph Ogolla and John Ochieng at the Mombasa High Court, where they were sentenced in the murder of Dutch national Jacobus Van Der Goes, October 265, 2018. PHOTO | BRIAN OCHARO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN OCHARO
By BRIAN OCHARO
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A gardener has been sentenced to death for the murder of Dutch national Jacobus Van Der Goes at his residence in Nyali, Mombasa County.

Justice Asenath Ongeri issued this sentence to John Ochieng on Friday.

PROOF

The judge noted that there was sufficient evidence to show Mr Ochieng and an accomplice murdered Mr Jacobus Van Der Goes and got rid of his body to conceal their actions.

Mr Ochieng's co-accused, Joseph Ogolla, was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of being an accessory to murder.

The suspects had denied committing the offence between January 4 and 6, 2016.

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The prosecution said they killed the man, wrapped his body in a mattress and dumped it in a septic tank in his residence. It was discovered six months later.

A hammer and crowbar, suspected to have been used to clobber Mr Van Der Goes to death, were also found in the tank.

A medical report produced in court indicated that the man died from severe blunt force trauma to the left side of the head.

“The prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt. The court finds that the suspects are guilty as charged. The evidence against the accused is overwhelming and points to their guilt,” the judge said.

“I have considered mitigations by the accused. Though they are remorseful, they murdered an innocent man in the most foul way. The court proceeds to sentence Ochieng to death for the offence of murder and Ogolla to life imprisonment for being an accessory to murder."

ACQUITTAL

Ms Ongeri said that evidence adduced in court, including call data, indicated that Mr Ochieng was in the same area as Mr Van Der Goes on the day he went missing.

She also noted that there was proof that the accused made several withdrawals of funds from the victim's bank account and was spotted shopping.

The court was told that he withdrew Sh300,000 from the victim’s bank account using his Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card.

“Ochieng pleaded guilty to the charge of stealing by servant when he was convicted. He was also found with the deceased’s digital camera,” the judge said,

Justice Ongeri further noted that it was proven that Mr Ochieng and Mr Ogolla organised the sale of the victim's car.

Justice Ongeri acquitted a third suspect, Stephen Okoth, saying the prosecution failed to link him to the crime.

Mr Okoth was found with the victim's car, which went missing after he was killed. The court gave him the benefit of doubt and acquitted him despite findings that Mr Ochieng and Mr Ogola helped drive the car out of the 77-year-old's compound and coordinated its sale.

“There is no sufficient evidence linking Okoth to the murder. He is accordingly acquitted of the offence of murder,” the judge ruled.