3 officers, informant found guilty in Willie Kimani’s murder case

(From L-R) Police officers Frederick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, Leonard Mwangi and police informant Peter Ngugi accused of the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver. Photo/Courtesy.

Three police officers from Mlolongo police station and an informant accused of the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver have been found guilty.

Justice Jesse Lesiit also acquitted one officer, Leonard Maingi Mwangi on all three counts of murder for lack of sufficient evidence.

The convicts; Frederick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku and informant Peter Ngugi were charged with the murders of Willy Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and a taxi driver Joseph Muiruri which occurred on 23rd June 2016. 

While delivering the judgement, Justice Lesiit ruled that the prosecution had proven the case beyond reasonable doubt.

“I find that the circumstantial evidence established against the first, second, third and fifth justifies the guilt of the accused beyond any other reasonable hypothesis besides that of guilt,” Justice Lesiit ruled.

The judge added that the four contemplated for three hours on whether to kill the victims on the fateful day, a contemplation that indicated malicious motive.

The four were accused of abducting the victims while leaving Mavoko Law Courts where they had attended a case implicating Leliman in the shooting of Mwenda, a bodaboda operator.

Leliman had arrested Mwenda and taken him to Mavoko Law Courts where he was charged with possession of bhang, gambling and resisting arrest.

Feeling aggrieved, Mwenda reported the case to Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) and International Justice Mission (IJM).

IJM tasked Willie Kimani with representing Mwenda in the Mavoko Law Courts case.

The move shook Leliman as he felt that his job was in danger since IPOA took up the matter and summoned him for questioning.

And on 23rd June, they attended the hearing and thereafter boarded a taxi. This was the last time they were seen alive.

According to Justice Lesiit, Leliman was the mastermind of the offence and even attended to ensure that they were captured, detained to await nightfall, murdered and their bodies dumped in River Athi in Ol-Donyo Sabuk.

According to government pathologist Johansen Oduor, the victims died of blunt force trauma to the head. The three had also been strangled.

The Confession

Ngugi, the police informant had confessed to the killings and implicated Leliman as the mastermind with assistance from Mwangi and another unnamed officer.

In his confession, Ngugi narrated how the killings were orchestrated before they (accused) went back to Mlolongo to have drinks at Leliman’s bar.

He told the court that he regretted being used by the officer and feared that he would die before confessing to the crimes.

Justice Lesiit said she had written 6,000 pages of proceedings since the case started.


Dissatisfied with the judgement, Lawyer Cliff Ombeta who is on record for Cheburet and Leliman said he intends to appeal the matter. 

Ombetta said that the judge disregarded defense evidence. He added that he had proved to the court that Cheburet was not involved in the commission of the said murder but was disregarded by the judge.

He added that Cheburet gave sworn testimony and was even cross-examined even though Justice Lesiit read in her judgement that the testimony was unsworn.

“I believe that the court could not have read his defense because the court has come up with the conclusion that he gave an unsworn and he could not have been cross-examined on material facts. It is a lie,” Ombetta added.