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Judicial CP - July 2002

Daily Nation, Nairobi, 4 July 2002

Child Rapist Now Gets 12 Years In Jail

By Pamela Chepkemei

A child molester serving three years' probation yesterday had his sentence raised - to 12 years in jail and six lashes of the cane.

Reuben Bichanga was convicted of indecently assaulting the four-year-old child in May and was handed the probation sentence by Makadara Magistrate Rosemary Kimingi.

Mr Justice William Tuiyot said yesterday that the doctor who examined the child told the court that Bichanga had infected the child with gonorrhoea.

A Nation report highlighting the sentence caused a public uproar, resulting in Chief Justice Bernard Chunga recalling the file for a review of the sentence.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Tuiyot said the child was not only traumatised by the assault but she and her family had also experienced pain and anguish at the lenient sentence.

"It cannot be imagined how a girl aged four could be defiled by a grown up man as happened in this case," said Mr Justice Tuiyot. "A deterrent sentence is necessary and must be given."

Bichanga was whisked to the cells immediately after the ruling.

Mr Justice Tuiyot said there was sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction against Bichanga in the subordinate court.

He added that Mrs Kimingi did not consider the evidence of witnesses during her judgment on April 30. "The magistrate ought to have accepted the evidence of the girl," he noted.

Although Mrs Kimingi accepted the prosecution witnesses' evidence on defilement, she chose to convict him of indecent assault only on the grounds that there was no medical report proving defilement.

Mr Justice Tuiyot disagreed, however, maintaining that the evidence of the witnesses was enough to earn Bichanga a stiffer sentence.

"I consider that the other evidence of the prosecution witnesses should be regarded as of greater value which can stand without a medical report," said Mr Justice Tuiyot.

The application to have the probation sentence enhanced was prompted by criticism from the public and child rights activists.

State Counsel Jacinta Nyamosi appeared for the Attorney-General and asked the court to enhance the sentence.

But Bichanga's lawyer, Mr Peter Kanyi, opposed the move and sought to produce new evidence on the medical report. The judge dismissed the application, however, and ordered that the case for review of sentence be heard. Bichanga had been accused of assaulting the girl on December 27, 2000, at Makongeni Estate in Nairobi.

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