A former student at Moi Girls High School who was found to have started a fire that claimed the lives of 10 students at the institution has been jailed for 5 years.

The High Court on Thursday, February 24, sentenced the 18-year-old to 5 years in jail after she was found guilty of 10 counts of manslaughter.

The minor was found guilty of involuntarily 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 in Form One.

According to court documents, the girl referred to as TWG, did not start the fire with the intention of killing her dorm mates. However, she was out to make a statement that she did not want to go through a learning experience at the school.

Documents and evidence provided in court indicated that the minor made the tragic decision to start a fire in a desperate attempt to get transferred from the school.

“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,” Justice Stella Mutuku stated while convicting the minor.

The court also acknowledged that those who interacted with the student might have prevented the incident had they taken into account her words and actions prior to the tragedy that claimed 10 lives.

From documents in court, a teacher was told of TWG’s intentions and did nothing. Other students who had interacted with the convicted minor also failed to report that she had a matchbox in school.

While convicting TWG, Justice Mutuku stated that her behaviour portrayed “a child crying for attention”.

“Consequently, I find her not guilty of the 10 counts of murder she is facing. She is hereby acquitted of the 10 counts of murder but I find her guilty of 10 counts of manslaughter,” Mutuku stated.

“The subject, 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,” she observed.

TWG had been accused of being in a cult but she denied the accusations in court – the judge also dismissed allegations.

The law defines murder as the act of deliberately causing the death of another with malicious premeditation. However, where the death is found to have happened accidentally, without malice or premeditation – it is classified as manslaughter which attracts a significantly less punitive punishment.

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