IJM Kenya: After a Shocking Arrest and a Stroke - Evans Is Now Free

After feeling silenced by his stroke in the legal battle for his freedom, Evans said proudly, "I have someone to speak for me now."
After feeling silenced by his stroke in the legal battle for his freedom, Evans said proudly, "I have someone to speak for me now."

NAIROBI, KENYA – Last week, a Kenyan father was finally declared innocent in court after being blamed for a crime he never committed.

The shock of his arrest 18 months ago left Evans partially paralyzed, and left his family struggling to get by. But with support from IJM Kenya, Evans and his family are safe and starting to thrive once again.

Blamed for a Violent Robbery

A father of six, Evans worked as a security guard for a company selling building materials and hardware. One night, he was approached by a group of men in similar uniforms to his own —but he realized too late that they were imposters. The men held Evans and his coworkers at gunpoint, tied them up and locked them in a room, before stealing nearly $35,000 worth of goods.

Police discovered the crime early the next morning and came to release Evans and the other guards. But—shockingly—the officers arrested Evans and his colleagues instead, charging them with the robbery and with failing to prevent a felony.

Overwhelmed, 45-year-old Evans suffered a stroke after he was arrested. His speech became impaired, leaving him unable to defend his innocence to police or the courts. Evans was quickly thrown in prison, even though he was completely innocent.

Back Home, But Struggling to Get By

After one month in jail, Evans was granted bail. But in order for his impoverished family to raise the large sum it would take to secure his freedom, they had to sell their cow and put up the title to their land as a form of security. He was able to go home, but still faced the bogus charges and a lengthy court case they had no money to fight on their own.

Back at home, Evans’ family began to suffer. He had been the only breadwinner, but lost his job after the arrest. He and his wife had to rely on handouts from relatives to keep food on the table and to keep their children in school.

“The family had been forced into desperate circumstances,” says IJM Aftercare Specialist Rose Muthee. “Four of Evans’ children had to move upcountry under the care of their grandmother… [Evans] could not attend his hospital appointments, go for physiotherapy or buy his prescribed medication. When IJM met him, he was disturbed from the stress of unmet basic needs for his family.”

“The family had been forced into desperate circumstances,” says IJM Aftercare Specialist Rose Muthee.

Justice for a Desperate Family

A few months after Evans was released on bail, a local prison warden referred him to IJM Kenya for legal help to clear his name. With his innocence clear, IJM attorneys started fighting for Evans in court and underscored the absence of evidence against him. IJM social workers also visited Evans’ family at home and helped his wife start a small grocery business for income they needed.

Even with the lack of evidence against him, IJM attorneys spent nearly 18 months relentlessly defending Evans’ innocence—a legal battle he likely could not have managed on his own.

At last, on December 10, 2013, the Kenyan courts finally acquitted Evans and the other guards of the bogus crime. His name has been cleared, and he is free to rebuild his life safely with his family.

IJM Kenya’s aftercare team will continue to support Evans’ medical care over the next few months and will help pay school fees for his children until Evans and his wife are back on their feet. Evans has completed an IJM counseling course to help him recover from the trauma of his false imprisonment.

Celebrating the family’s great victory in court, IJM Kenya Legal Assistant Samuel Karanja says, “We are thrilled that Evans will now be able to have peace of mind.”

Africa, Illegal Detention