Pastor Ng’ang’a not off the hook yet in car crash case
The state has appealed a ruling where televangelist James Ng’ang’a of Neno Evangelism Ministry and three others were acquitted of charges of killing a woman by dangerous driving three years ago.
State Counsel Catherine Mwaniki filed a notice of appeal at the Kiambu High Court, saying the trial magistrate “erred in law and facts” when he let the four off the hook, thereby causing a miscarriage of justice.
The trio was let go by Chief Magistrate Godfrey Oduor, who has since moved to Nakuru.
Lady Justice Christine Meoli, who allowed the appeal, directed the prosecution to serve the four with the appeal’s petition in which it has poked holes into Mr Odour’s judgment, in readiness for the hearing whose dates will be set on August 1.
The petition, signed by Ms Mwaniki says Mr Oduor erred by acquitting Mr N’gan’ga despite having been positively identified by three witnesses as the one who was driving the car that killed Mercy Njeri, on grounds that they were contradictory.
Ms Mwaniki, who said that the contradictions were minor to affect the case, also faults Mr Oduor for dismissing evidence from Safaricom and cyber-crime, which placed Mr N’gang’a, Samuel Kuria, Inspector Christopher Nzilu and Patrick Baya at the scene of accident, on grounds that it did not meet legal standards.
While releasing the four, the magistrate said Mr Ng’an’ga, Mr Kuria, Inspector Nzilu and Baya were not involved in an accident that killed Ms Njeri’s on July 26, 2015 at Manguo in Limuru along the Nairobi-Naivasha Road.
Besides causing death through dangerous driving, Mr Ng’ang’a was also charged with failing to report the accident, deceiving police to avoid arrest and driving an uninsured car or failing to display the insurance certificate.
The three others were charged with conspiring to mislead a police officer at Tigoni Police Station in order to defeat the course of justice while Mr Nzilu and Mr Baya, who are police officers, faced more counts of neglecting their duties.
BURDEN OF PROOF
Further, Ms Mwaniki says Mr Oduor wronged by not finding that the prosecution had discharged its burden of proof and that it did not adduce sufficient evidence to prove a prima facie case against the four, leading to their acquittal.
During the hearing, the prosecution called 33 witnesses, among them motorists, a pedestrian and data experts who placed Mr Ng’ang’a, Mr Kuria and Mr Nzilu at the scene of accident.
Their communication, according to experts, suggested that after the accident, the trio were trio were communicating about it, mostly through text messages which were produced in court as exhibits.
Three witnesses, a driver, a motorist and a pedestrian, who were protected witnesses, said they saw the preacher at the scene, and that he was the one driving a Range Rover car that collided with a Nissan March that was being driven by Ms Njeri.
But Mr Oduor said their evidence was inadmissible, saying it had inconsistencies and discrepancies, looked strange, contorted and exaggerated.
Corporal Daniel Hamisi from Safaricom said Mr Ng’ang’a, Mr Kuria and Mr Nzilu’s calls logs showed they were in Naivasha and Limuru on the day of the accident almost at the same time and after the accident, they communicated with each other.
Charlton Mureithi, who was the traffic commandant during the investigations, said the mobile data gave strong evidence placing Mr Ng’ang’a as the driver of the killer vehicle since the phone data showed Mr Kuria was not at the scene at the time of the accident when it occurred.