A teenage school girl risks spending the rest of her life in prison after a court found her guilty of manslaughter in relation to a fire incident that killed 10 of her colleagues.
The High Court on Thursday found the 18-year-old minor guilty of causing the death of the 10 students who died in 2017 at the Moi Girls School Nairobi.
At the time of the incident, she was aged 14 years and was at Form One. She was housed in Kabarnet dormitory, where the inferno occurred. The students had just reported back to school.
The offence of manslaughter is punishable by the maximum penalty of life imprisonment under section 205 of the Penal Code.
While convicting the girl on Thursday, the court said she did not start the fire with the intention of killing her schoolmates, but did so in a desperate attempt to get transferred from the school by any means.
“Her aim may have been just to cause a fire and burn the building without hurting anyone, but it was ill-intentioned given that the building had two floors and there were going to be casualties as a result of the fire,” said Justice Stella Mutuku.
The judge observed that the minor in her naivety may have overlooked the consequences of her actions. Her attempt to wake some of her friends up was aimed at rescuing them from the fire, the judge further noted.
The court said the prosecution having failed to prove the element of malice aforethought, it was unable to find the minor guilty of the offence of murder in all the 10 counts she was facing.
“The accused person is hereby acquitted of the 10 counts of murder she is facing. Instead, I find the offence proved beyond reasonable doubt to be manslaughter in all the counts,” ruled Justice Mutuku.
In her defence, the student refuted prosecution claims that she had a matchbox which is she allegedly used to burn the dormitory. She will be sentenced on January 4, 2021, after giving her mitigation.
The minor is said to have committed the offence on the night of September 1 and 2, 2017 at around 2:00 am jointly with others not before the court.
During the incident, 51 students were injured and taken to Nairobi Women’s Hospital. A total of 40 were treated and discharged while 11 were admitted. Three of them had serious injuries.
After the student burnt her mattress one of her colleagues took it upon herself to wake up the others who were deep asleep.
She forced all the students including the suspect to get out of the dormitory.