Africa Crime East Africa Kenya United Kingdom

Tebbutt murder-kidnap: Kenyan freed from prison after long campaign

A Kenyan convicted in a trial linked to the murder of a British man has been freed from prison, after a decade-long campaign to overturn his conviction.

The BBC revealed in 2022 that a senior Metropolitan police officer who assisted the Kenyan investigation “omitted key forensic evidence” in the trial of Ali Kololo.

Jude Tebbutt, the wife of the murdered man, says Ali Kololo is innocent.

His conviction is expected to be formally overturned in April.

Following an appeal hearing at the Kenyan High Court on Monday, Ali Kololo has been freed on a bond of 100,000 shillings ($790; £659), ahead of the judgement.

David Tebbutt and his wife Jude had been staying at a secluded resort on the Kenyan coast in 2011, when they came under attack. David was killed and Jude was held hostage in nearby Somalia for six months. She was only released after her adult son, Olly, negotiated a ransom deal.

Father of two, Ali Kololo, was convicted of robbery with violence and sentenced to death at a trial in 2013. His death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Ali Kololo joined the appeal hearing at the Kenyan High Court in Malindi on Monday by video link from Mombasa’s Shimo La Tewa maximum security prison, where he has been incarcerated for more than a decade.

“Ali has suffered in prison for 11 years, the victim of a terrible injustice, while David Tebbutt’s killers remain free,” his lawyer, Alfred Olaba says.

“The case against him was weak and riddled with inconsistencies from the start.”

In June 2022, the BBC revealed that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which had been investigating Det Ch Insp Neil Hibberd’s role in the case since June 2018, had concluded that “had the officer still been serving he would have had a case to answer for gross misconduct”.

If proven, gross misconduct could lead to dismissal of a serving officer – but Mr Hibberd retired in 2017.

Neil Hibberd was a key prosecution witness and his evidence was cited by the magistrate as one of the deciding factors in Ali Kololo’s conviction.

Mr Hibberd “absolutely disagrees with the [IOPC] findings”, his lawyer told the BBC in 2022.

Before the appeal court hearing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Kenya confirmed his position that Ali Kololo should never have been convicted and sentenced to death, as the trial judge’s findings were “not based on the evidence on record” and were “based on hearsay testimony”.

The DPP said that testimony given by Det Ch Insp Neil Hibberd on the arrest and crucial shoe-print evidence that linked Ali Kololo to the scene of the crime was “purely hearsay evidence”.

Director of justice charity Reprieve, Maya Foa, says there is an overwhelming feeling of relief that Ali Kololo has finally been released.

“Ali has waited years for this moment. Everyone at Reprieve who has worked on his case is overjoyed to see him released from prison and reunited with his family at long last.

“But we should not lose sight of everything that has been taken from him as the result of a deeply unfair trial. It is a tragedy that he has spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.”

Source : BBC