Prison break: Puzzle of daring inmates escaping police cells

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 00:00 | By
Prisoners under lock and key. Photo/PD/FILE

 At least 10 inmates, including a British national, have escaped from police custody in unclear circumstances in the last 10 days.

The trend that has even baffled security officers involves some inmates who had manifested that they had reformed and rehabilitated. 

In three of the cases reported in Uasin Gishu, Nyamira and Shanzu, the police officers in-charge of the suspects who escaped could not explain how it happened.

Among those who have mysteriously escaped is Joanne Goodman, a British national who was convicted on March 10 by Shanzu Law Courts.

Ms Goodman was detained at Mtwapa Police Station awaiting her repatriation after she was found to be illegally in the country. 

The Immigration Department said that as its officers were planning for the repatriation, the flights were suspended as an international measure to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

As a result, she remained in custody at the Mtwapa Police Station where she won the trust of the officers.

Having stayed for long without showing any sign of planning an escape, she would be allowed to leave the cells and wash her clothes.

One Friday at around midnight, she requested Constable Lydia Akinyi to escort her outside the cells to pick the clothes she had washed earlier.

That was the last time she was seen.

 “The officer could not explain how she sneaked and disappeared from the station,” a report to police headquarters read.

It was not clear what Ms Goodman was doing in the country but she had earlier said she was in lawfully until her Visa expired. 

Officers from Mtwapa Police Station who later charged her in court arrested her in a swoop.

In May, Goodman’s lawyer Morris Mkhan had moved to High Court seeking her release on bond so that she could stay with friends, saying her stay in the cells could expose her to Covid-19.

The State lawyer Bosibori Ogega, however, opposed the application saying she was already a convict.

Human nature

It is considered human nature to want to escape from prison and in some jurisdictions, escape is not penalised in itself.

Last week, a police officer blatantly lowered his guard and a convict escaped from Kibera Law Courts shortly after he was convicted.

Kilimani sub-county Police Commander Lucas Ogara said Collins Kibet had been convicted and faced a jail term of three years for personating a police officer and being in possession of government stores or in lieu pay a fine of Sh200,000.

“He had been charged by Lang’ata Police Station. We are, however, investigating the escape but he is yet to be traced,” Ogara said. 

The suspect requested Constable John Kimeu to allow him to go speak to his advocate, who identified himself as Victor Arika, inside the court.

Constable Kimeu, attached to Nairobi West Police Post, did not suspect anything and allowed him.

The officer then went to the prosecutor to have the committal bundles signed but when he turned back, the prisoner was missing. 

In some of the cases, suspects have exploited the weaknesses and taken advantage of them including overlooked security issues, or taking advantage of officers who are not following procedures.

On Wednesday last week, another robbery suspect Humphrey Shilisia escaped from Langas Police Station in Uasin Gishu County, also in unclear circumstances. Two officers had escorted the suspect to the toilet.

“Police Constable Dalphine Mongesa and Constable Eugene Baraza failed to give satisfactory explanation about the escape and were consequently arrested,” a report to police headquarters read.

Another robbery last week suspect, Aloyce Ageto Osoro, 27, escaped from Nyamira Police Station.

The escape was never detected until the following day when officers taking over duty realised he was not there.

In another case reported by the police, Kennedy Yator and Jonathan Kipkosgei made a dawn escape from Naiberi Police Station in Eldoret East Sub-County.

The two had been charged with theft of a vehicle and threatening to kill, respectively.

The police commander said the officers who were responsible –Constable Irene Khisa and Constable Timothy Ndolo – had been grilled over the escape but did not give ‘satisfactory explanation’.

More on News