A man who was serving a life sentence for rape will now be jailed for 13 years.The High Court in Narok ruled that the trial court did not take into account the period the convict had been in custody before sentencing him.

John Taiko Mereu was charged with raping a pregnant woman and cutting her on the right leg using a panga.

According to evidence presented in court, Mereu and another accomplice who was not arrested, forced open the house of MS, who is the complainant in July 2014.

MS was asleep with her husband when one of the two men tried to slash her husband but he shielded himself with a plastic chair. He then ran to a nearby police roadblock at Ntulele and alerted an officer.

The police officer alerted colleagues who were on patrol but when they got to the house, the door was open and no one was inside.

“We heard murmurs in the maize plantation. We went there and found a suspect standing. When he saw us he escaped,” the officer testified in court.

“We then shone our torches and saw a man, Mereu, lying on top of a woman. The half-naked man was raping the woman.”

The officers arrested him and then then dressed up the woman.

The police said the woman was bleeding profusely below the knee. She was unable to stand or walk.

“We took her to Narok Referral Hospital in company of her husband. Mereu whose jeans were blood-stained was booked and put in police cells,” the officer said.

Clinical Edwin Kiprotich, who examined the complainant, said she looked confused and was in shock. He said she had a deep wound on the right leg probably inflicted by a sharp object.

In his defence, Mereu said he had taken too much alcohol and slept on the road at Ntulele where the police arrested him and put him in cells. He said the complainant was a total stranger to him. And that he was surprised when he was charged with this offence.

The trial magistrate found Mereu guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Aggrieved by the decision, he appealed at the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence.

Mereu said the complainant did not positively identify him as the culprit. He also said the sentence was unfair as the judge did not specifically identify his faults.

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High Court judge Justus Bwonwonga, however, withheld the conviction stating that the evidence provided was sufficient to prove him guilty.

“It is clear from the foregoing that the appellant was caught red-handed in the act of raping the complainant. This is not a case of the appellant being mistaken for another person. It, therefore, follows that the issue that he was not positively identified does not arise at all,” he ruled.

Bwonwonga, however, said the trial court erred in law in taking the minimum sentence as the starting point.

“I, therefore, quash the sentence imposed by the trial court. In its place, I hereby impose a sentence of 13 years imprisonment after taking into account that the appellant has been in custody since July 14, 2014,” he ruled.

Akello Odenyo/The Star