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British man avoids death penalty after being acquitted of murder in Kenya

A British national who was facing the mandatory death penalty for the alleged murder of his girlfriend in Kenya was acquitted on 8th June 2017, as the trial court judge found that the accused had no case to answer, having heard the evidence of the prosecution.

Carl Singleton, from Cumbria, had moved to Kenya in 2013 to live with his girlfriend, Peris Agumbi. Agumbi died in November 2014 after suffering diabetic hypertension and respiratory failure. Singleton was alleged to have deliberately destroyed Agumbi’s supply of insulin and was charged with her murder.

The Death Penalty Project (DPP) has been providing Singleton’s local lawyers with pro bono legal assistance since 2015, working closely with the consular team at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in trying to resolve the case. Along with Helen Law, a barrister at Matrix Chambers, we have advised the local legal team in Kenya and instructed Dr Ralph Abraham, a UK expert on diabetes, to address the claims made by the prosecution. According to Dr Abraham’s expert evidence, despite being admitted to hospital on multiple occasions prior to her death, Agumbi failed to receive proper treatment that could have saved her life. Dr Abraham emphasised that, in the UK, insulin is widely accessible on prescription, and that a temporary loss of medication would be extremely unlikely to result in death.

Saul Lehrfreund, Co-Executive Director of the DPP says:

“If convicted, Singleton would have been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, which remains the only possible punishment for a person convicted of murder in Kenya. This practice is out of step with international legal standards which Kenya has ratified, that make clear that the mandatory death penalty violates fundamental human rights. The Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty in Kenya. As international experts, we are a party to the challenge, which, if successful, will introduce judicial discretion in death penalty cases.”

Read more

“Briton Carl Singleton cleared in murder of his UoN girlfriend”, The Star, 8 June 2017

“Briton accused of killing girlfriend in Kenya to have second psychiatric test”, The Guardian, 19 February 2017

Notes to Editors

The Death Penalty Project assisted local attorney Anthony Okulo of Okulo & Company Advocates with the support of UK barrister Helen Law of Matrix Chambers, who was instructed pro bono. Dr Ralph Abraham, Consultant in Diabetes, Lipid Disorders and Endocrinology, also provided pro bono assistance in this case.

The Death Penalty Project is amicus curiae in a case currently before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty in Kenya.

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