A Makueni court has sentenced two Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) officials and a police officer to 12 years in prison each after finding them guilty of siphoning 33,000 litres of oil worth Sh3.4 million at the firm’s Kiunduani pump station in the county.
Senior Principal Magistrate James Mwaniki jailed the manager in charge of the station Antony Kiiru Maina, junior KPC official Michael Mutisya Kyenze, and Antony Wekesa Situma, an administration police officer who was based at the station, for robbery with violence.
“The three can appeal within 14 days,” Mr Mwaniki told a court jammed with detectives, intelligence and KPC officials on Tuesday.
The convictions bring to end months of trial, which revealed how the pump station had been turned into a scene of gangland-style operation on the night of October 22, 2017.
On this night, a tanker drove into the pump station under the cover of darkness and made its way out carrying the commodity.
The thieves would have taken the fuel away if the vehicle had not stalled a few metres from the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
Occupants of the tanker fled.
Detectives investigating the incident had placed Mr Kiiru squarely at the centre of the fuel racket.
Records of telephone conversations tabled in court showed that the suspects had been in constant communication days before the incident.
According to the prosecution, the manager himself had creatively opened a seal at the pump station and connected a horse pipe to siphon refined petroleum into the tanker.
In addition to Kiiru, the police arrested Mutisya, Wekesa, David Kitany, a police officer based at the station, Bernard Kimotho Makau, a security guard and Joseph Theuri, the owner of the tanker, in connection with the incident.
The six were charged at Makindu law courts with robbery with violence and, alternatively, stealing goods in transit.
All except Mr Theuri were also charged with conspiring to commit a felony and aiding escape.
The case was transferred to Makueni Law Courts months later after the prosecution complained of a conflict of interest at Makindu Law Courts.
The prosecution proved that Mutisya assaulted and injured Aden Abdulahi Abdi, a watchman at the Kiunduani pump station, in a bid to assist the fuel thieves to escape.
The guard had mobilised his colleagues and Mr Kitany, arresting four occupants of the tanker at the pump station and confiscated the ignition keys before Mr Wekesa intervened and set the crew and the vehicle free.
Mutisya assaulted the watchman as he attempted to prevent the tanker from escaping by locking the main gate.
Wekesa cited “orders from above” when pressed to explain why he had set the thieves free.
The magistrate dismissed the police sergeant as dishonest after he failed to substantiate his claim that his superiors had ordered him to release the tanker.
Mr Mwaniki cleared Mr Kimotho, Mr Kitany, and Mr Theuri of wrongdoing.
The court ruled that Mr Kitany and Mr Kimotho were powerless in the presence of their bosses.
The magistrate also ruled that Mr Theuri was not aware of the nature of business his vehicle was involved in on the day the theft happened.
Although the magistrate acquitted Kiiru, Mutisya, and Wekesa of the alternative charges, he found them guilty of robbery with violence.