Mr Bryan Kassaine Spira, the best of friend of Mr Joseph Irungu ‘Jowie’ and TV anchor Jacque Maribe, has turned State witness, according to the Nation’s law enforcement sources.
On Monday, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji gave consent for the prosecution of Mr Irungu and Ms Maribe for murder in the death of Ms Monica Kimani on the night of September 19.
It had been widely speculated that Ms Maribe would face the lesser charge of accessory to murder, but it appears investigators and prosecutors want to leave the job of determining the extent of culpability, if any, to the courts.
Even the lesser offence of accessory to murder is a serious crime whose punishment is life in prison, according to Section 222 of the Penal Code.
The acquisition of a high-value witness may also have given investigators and prosecutors confidence in their murder case. Mr Kassaine is Ms Maribe’s neighbour and a close friend of the couple. It is likely that Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti will have used Mr Kassaine’s evidence to try and tie the two to the crime and what investigators have described as an attempted cover-up.
The Daily Nation does not know at what point Mr Kassaine agreed to turn State witness, or what evidence, if any, he may have provided to detectives.
Ms Maribe and Mr Irungu will appear in court this morning to plead to the charges. They are innocent until pronounced otherwise by the courts.
In the opinion of prosecutors and investigators that the Nation spoke to in confidence, four factors will have weighed on the minds of investigators with regard to Ms Maribe’s fate; first, when she learnt of Ms Kimani’s death, based on the assumption that Ms Kimani was known to her; second, whether she came into contact with any evidence relating to a possible crime and a person she may reasonably have suspected to have committed the crime; third, how she behaved towards any evidence of the crime; and, finally, what steps she took to report her suspicions to the police.
Police have previously said that clothes which may have been worn by a suspect in the commission of the crime were burnt near Ms Maribe’s house.
Investigators and prosecutors will be hoping that Mr Kassaine will help the court to identify the person or persons involved in the burning of the clothes, which they have characterised as the destruction of evidence and concealment of a crime.
Police and prosecutors will likely also be relying on Mr Kassaine to give evidence about his gun, a Ceska, which was used in an alleged suicide attempt by Mr Irungu inside Ms Maribe’s Royal Park Estate house on Friday, September 21, at around 1am. Yesterday, Nation sources said ballistics experts had confirmed that the bullet which injured Mr Irungu came from Mr Kassaine’s gun.
At 7pm in the evening of the same day, Ms Maribe, Mr Irungu and Mr Kassaine reported to Lang’ata Police Station that Mr Irungu had been shot by thugs early in the day.
Ms Kimani, 28 and a South Sudan-based businesswoman, was killed in her Lamuria Gardens apartment, off Dennis Pritt Road in Nairobi. She had been tied up, her mouth taped shut and throat cut by what police have described as a “highly trained assassin”.
Mr Irungu, a bodyguard who has worked for private security companies in the Gulf and Afghanistan, was arrested on September 24. Yesterday, he was taken for psychiatric assessment to determine if he is fit to stand trial. He has been in custody at Muthaiga Police Station after a court sitting in Kiambu allowed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to detain him.
The assessment was conducted by a private psychiatrist even as his family and lawyers complained that he had not been treated for the gunshot wound on his chest despite the court in Kiambu ordering the police to take him to hospital.
The law stipulates that murder suspects should be subjected to mental tests to ascertain their fitness to plead and stand trial.
“My client has not been receiving treatment,” lawyer Sam Nyaberi complained. “He is in so much pain yet he does not even have painkillers.”
Mr Nyaberi said that, even though the police have been allowing Mr Irungu to see his lawyers, he was not happy with the manner in which they had handled his client’s health.
A family member told the Nation that investigators took DNA samples from Mr Irungu on Friday last week, and that he had protested against the collection of the samples in the absence of his lawyer.
Police are treating Mr Irungu as the key suspect in Ms Kimani’s killing. They said two witnesses, who are Ms Kimani’s neighbours, identified him as having visited her apartment on the night of her death. Security camera footage, police have also said, showed Ms Maribe’s car leaving Ms Kimani’s apartment block driven by a man they believe to be Mr Irungu.
Although detectives from the Homicide Unit must present Mr Irungu in court today, they have decried the limited time they were given to complete investigations.
Yesterday they said they were yet to receive some DNA results from the Government Chemist, recover the murder weapon, receive a conclusive report from South Sudan where Ms Kimani worked and lived, and the apartment and Ms Kimani’s car keys, among other exhibits. A group of detectives who were sent to Mombasa to collect more evidence was also not yet back in the city by press time.
The officers, however, said they had collected enough evidence, including statements from 15 witnesses, to bring the charges.
Ms Maribe and Mr Kassaine were expected to be taken to court on Thursday this week, but that has since changed and Ms Maribe is expected to be charged alongside Mr Irungu.
Last week the Central Firearms Bureau confirmed to the DCI that the certificate for the firearm held by Mr Kassaine was revoked in 2015 after it was found to have been illegitimate. The law criminalises the unlawful possession of a gun and the crime attracts a minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 15.
The new developments in the gripping murder saga came on the day the Nation got a glimpse of Mr Irungu’s controversial stint in Dubai.
A source claimed that Mr Irungu, who worked as a security guard with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in the United Arabs Emirates, was fired after “a series of warnings” over his behaviour.
“He had received several warning letters,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “He worked at the hotel for only seven months before he was fired” for gross misconduct.
Mr Irungu, the source added, had been caught with alcohol in the staff quarters, which is a criminal offence in Dubai. He received a warning for the offence, but the management grew weary of him when, one day, he was caught inside a guest’s room. Guards do not usually gain access to guests’ rooms, and Mr Irungu was hard-pressed to explain what he was doing there.
While he managed to explain his way back into employment on these two occasions, Mr Irungu was finally sacked after he was caught inside staff quarters restricted to women, the source said yesterday.
The source claimed that, after getting fired, Mr Irungu made away with several laptop computers belonging to his colleagues at the staff quarters.
The Nation could not independently confirm these allegations as the management of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in the UAE was not available for comment.