Probe launched in murder of Kenyan woman by UK soldier

Monday, October 25th, 2021 05:00 |
The late Agnes Wanjiru who was brutally murdered by a British soldier in 2012. Photo/Courtesy

Authorities in the United Kingdom have finally launched investigations into the brutal murder of a Kenyan woman by a British soldier at a Nanyuki hotel nine years ago.

The UK’s Royal Military Police has launched investigations into the murder of Agnes Wanjiru, 21, a Kenyan sex worker by the soldier, then attached to the British Army Training Unit Kenya on the night of March 21, 2012.

Yesterday, British High Commissioner Jane Marriott, assured Kenyans that UK authorities would cooperate with the Kenyan government to reach to the bottom of the matter.  

“I share the outrage and concern about the tragic death of Wanjiru. My thoughts are with her family and community.

I can assure Kenyans that the UK is fully cooperating with the investigation and will help in any way we can,” Marriott said. 

In 2012, the UK’s Special Investigation Branch conducted initial enquiries in Kenya, including providing information about British personnel to Kenyan police. No further requests were received at that time. 

“Following the conclusion of a Kenyan inquest in 2019, we understand that the Kenyan authorities are looking into the murder. We will support that Kenyan police investigation,” the commissioner held. 

“Conduct of the UK military here is incredibly important to us. They do a lot of good in Nanyuki, for the economy and the community. But where there are issues, we have and will address them,” Marriott added. 

Foul smell

“Senior military visitors from the UK come to Kenya regularly - including in the coming weeks - and will be discussing Wanjiru’s murder and UK support to the Kenyan investigation.”

A Labour MP has also called on the government to investigate any possible cover-up.

A UK defence source told MailOnline: “The Defence Secretary has been impatient with the pace of this, and has directed full cooperation. He has worked with the military police and Kenyans to ensure their investigation is not impeded.”

A maintenance worker, who noticed a foul smell found Wanjiru’s body at the Lions Court Inn Hotel in Nanyuki.

On the fateful day, Wanjiru had gone to the facility and sat at a table with two friends. In the hotel were dozens of British soldiers, who were drinking beer and dancing with women. 

At around midnight, she left arm-in-arm with one of the soldiers and that was the last time she was seen alive.

Wanjiru’s friend waited for her until around 3am and when she failed to turn up, she decided to go home. 

A guard at the hotel also said he escorted the deceased and the soldier to the room and saw them enter.

Immediately after the murder, the soldier burst into the hotel’s bar crying and told his colleagues that he had killed her.

The soldier, whose identity is yet to be revealed, confessed to have fatally stabbed Wanjiru before dumping her body in the hotel’s septic tank, according to reports in the British media.

Wanjiru was then living with her sister in Nanyuki’s Majengo slums together with her five-month old baby.

The suspect confessed and even escorted some of his colleagues to the septic tank where he opened the lid and showed them the young mother’s body. At least five British soldiers gave the Unit the same name of the killer soldier.

Four witnesses

The matter was reported to his seniors who reportedly covered up the murder, despite the fact that the identity of the killer was common knowledge in the regiment.

Wanjiru’s body would remain in the septic tank for two months, only to be discovered after the British troops had left the country.

Forensic investigations were also significantly hampered by the fact that the body, upon recovery, had decomposed and that the room she had been in had been repeatedly cleaned.

Confidential documents seen by a section of British media show four witnesses told the original Kenyan police investigation in 2012 that Wanjiru left the bar with a British soldier and went to his room.

According to the soldier, the two seemed to be getting on well and he was not concerned about their safety.

Just six days after her death, the regiment returned to the UK before being deployed to Afghanistan.

Wanjiru’s family has been pushing for answers from both the Kenyan and the British governments, in vain.

Family claims British and Kenyan authorities have staged a cover-up to maintain diplomatic relations over the nearby Nanyuki army base, where the UK sends six infantry battalions a year for eight-week exercises.

After killing Wanjiru, the killer burst into the bar where his colleagues were appearing visibly distressed and shouted: “Help me, help me…I have killed her.”

He then took his colleague, another soldier from the Duke of Lancaster regiment, to the septic tank where he showed him the body.

“I looked in and I just remember seeing her (Wanjiru) in there. My heart sank. My mind just went blank. The only thing I could say to him was: ‘I will never forgive you for this,’’ the soldier told the team investigating the death.

Confidential documents

According to confidential documents seen by the MailOnline, witnesses, including Wanjiru’s elder sister Rose Wanjiku, the deceased was seen leaving the hotel bar with the soldier and they both proceeded to a room where they were later heard quarrelling.

Wanjiku said Kenyan police were reluctant to investigate the death.

“From the first day we reported the case, the police did nothing until her body was accidentally removed from a septic tank. The Kenyan police should have forced the British Army to produce the culprits to face the law,” Wanjiku said.

At the same hotel, there had been reports of mass brawls, binge drinking and sex parties with the rival regiments occasionally fighting each other. As a result, a number of soldiers were released from the base.

UK Defence, however, said in 2012, Special Investigation Branch carried out initial enquiries in Kenya, including providing information about British personnel to the Kenyan police.

“No further requests for assistance were received. Following the conclusion of a Kenyan inquest in 2019, we are aware that the Kenyan authorities are looking into this incident,” MailOnline quoted the Ministry of Defence.

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