A man who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for defilement has been set free after a court declared he was unfairly sentenced.
The High Court said the sentence did not comply with principles guiding the sentencing of young adults. He was charged that in April 2019, he defiled a 15-year-old girl in Tana Delta, Tana River county.
The man pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced. However, he appealed against the sentence at the High Court in Garsen and sought to have it overturned.
He claimed the trial judge erred in sentencing him as an adult, yet he committed the crime while still underage. A doctor from Malindi Hospital had assessed the age of the appellant as 18 years old—the age of majority in Kenya, but the accused maintained that the crime was committed while was below 18.
Judge Reuben Nyakundi said the sentencing was not compliant with the law as the trial court only focused on the victim and the public but failed to put into account personal circumstances of the accused in its final verdict.
Nyakundi said the age of the accused was an estimation and it was possible that he might have been under 18. He said the magistrate ought to have considered personal circumstances of the accused such as his age, being a first offender, the entry of a plea of guilty in the first instance and the likelihood of reoffending.
He also said the accused might have also been 18 years but the court did not exercise its discretion on sentencing to give fair and just sentencing to achieve justice.
Nyakundi said being 18 years old did not mean the accused was fully matured and had all attributes of adulthood and therefore the trial court failed to invoke some principals while sentencing the young adult.
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