A man who confessed to killing Kiru Boys’ High School principal Solomon Mwangi was yesterday jailed for seven years.
Joseph Kariuki Njuguna’s murder charge was reduced to manslaughter after he told the court he was remorseful, as his actions were only motivated by the money he was offered.
He pleaded with the court for leniency and a non-custodial sentence. Kariuki has offered to testify in the murder trial of Solomon Mwangi’s widow and another person.
Judge Joel Ngugi said he sentenced Kariuki to seven years because he agreed to be a witness. He faced between 10 to 15 years in jail.
The prosecution urged the court not to reveal the prison Kariuki will be taken because of his status as a witness in a murder case. Kariuki told the court he and his accomplice were promised Sh400,000, but they were only paid Sh100,000.
After the murder, Mwangi’s widow Jane Muthoni and her accomplice switched off their phones, he said.
Kariuki said he had second thoughts about killing Mwangi, but he did it when Muthoni insisted. “I am scared every time I remember the death of the principal. I was motivated by money and I did not look at the man as he died, which still haunts me,” he said.
Muthoni and Isaack Ng’ang’a have denied murdering Mwangi between November 6 and 11 last year in a coffee plantation in Juja. Their cases will be heard on May 8.
Kariuki’s lawyer John Kamau told the court his client has apologised to Mwangi’s family and his plea agreement to manslaughter came from the heart.
He said Kariuki voluntarily cooperated with the police and the prosecution to solve the case and led them to the real culprits.
“He has a young family and is the sole breadwinner. He wishes he could one day go back to them,” Kamau said. Mwangi’s family representative Fr Gerishon Kuria said they have left it to the court to decide.
Murder most foul
Slain Kiru Principal Solomon Mwangi’s wife Jane Muthoni in a Murang’a court
The court in February heard that in June last year, Kariuki was called by a woman identified as Damaris, who he had known for a long time.
He was promised a job with a good pay and was told he would be called by Njiru for the details.
After a day, Njiru called Kariuki and they met in Kimbo in the presence of Damaris. Njiru informed Kariuki the job was to kill a girl who stayed at Kiriani and worked at an M-Pesa shop. The girl was allegedly having an affair with a married man.
The court heard that Kariuki had been informed by Damaris that she had already taken Sh100,000 for the job and the next day they went to Kiriaini to see the place.
Kariuki met Njiru at Kimbo in a White Toyota Sienta and after entering the vehicle, he found a woman whom he later found out was the headteacher of Icaciri Secondary School in Gatundu South.
They waited for another passenger identified as Gikuyu, who was known to Kariuki. Njiru left with the woman and returned at 12 midday. He picked Kariuki and Gikuyu at Kiriaini and showed them a girl he said they had been asked to Kill.
Kariuki and Gikuyu entered the M-Pesa shop and bought sodas. They went back to Njiru and told him it was impossible to kill the girl because the M-Pesa shop was near Equity Bank and the Kiriaini police station.
The court was told the woman, only identified as Mwalimu, was informed of the difficulty of the job and gave Kariuki and Gikuyu Sh100,000.
She said she would find another way. Njiru called Kariuki informing him the job was ready.
Kariuki and Gikuyu met at Texas bar in Kiriaini and were joined by Njiru and Mwalimu. She told them she had a new plan which now targeted her husband.
She the new plot was to spike her husband’s drink. Mwalimu said once she did that, they would enter the house, strangle him and hang his body with a rope.
The lady Mwalimu went to Kiru Boys high school compound and went to her husband’s house as Kariuki and Gikuyu hid on the back seat of the vehicle. The wife went inside the house with her husband where after a long while she came and informed them that she had tried to lace husband’s water with poison but it became somehow dirty. Efforts to lace the tea also looked suspicious.
After failing to drug him, Mwalimu told her husband that she wanted to buy food in town. She drove with Kariuki and Gikuyu to Kiriaini town, where they picked Njiru.
Muthoni called her killer gang on November 6 with instructions they meet in Kiambu. She then picked her husband from school and went and slept in her house in Kiambu.
That Saturday night Muthoni tried to drug her husband for the second time and she was successful. On Sunday she took the husband to her killers.
The court was told that after hesitation the killers got the courage to kill the headteacher.
Gikuyu is said to have taken a sisal rope and put it around the headteacher’s neck and took him to a coffee plantation where they hanged him on a tree.
They later wrapped the body in bags.
The headteacher’s body was found a week later at a coffee farm in Juja after days of ‘intensive search’ led by his wife.