Two men have been convicted of aggravated robbery and murder of a Columbia University student who was on holiday in Kampala.
On December 31, 2015 at around midnight, Andrew Gatare, 19, a student of electrical engineering left home in Kololo to watch fireworks at Kampala Serena Hotel but was strangled by Ronald Mutebi and Geoffrey Lubwama before robbing his blackberry phone.
The duo was arrested after selling the phone at shs80, 000.
On Monday, Justice Flavia Anglin Ssenoga of the High Court in Kampala ruled that evidence brought against the duo was sufficient enough to have them convicted of the two offences.
“The two accused set out to commit the offence. They needed money and set out to find people who were celebrating the New Year to rob from. Unfortunately, the robbery went wrong and the deceased paid for with his life,” Justice Ssenoga ruled.
In its evidence, the state relied on a confession by Mutebi who pinned his co-accused in a statement written at police.
The defence lawyers however dismissed it as being forced, adding that the suspect had been tortured.
However, in her judgment, Justice Ssenoga said the confessions were made voluntarily and there was no evidence to show that Mutebi had been tortured.
“While the issue of torture was raised, the doctor who examined him didn’t find it any evidence to show it. The statement was therefore voluntarily made.”
The judge added that the confession by Mutebi pinning his co-accused was so much detailed that it could not be given by someone who was not part as the offence was being committed.
“It is discerning to know that both accused knew each other before the offence contrary to what A1 told court. They were together at a bar before setting out for the day.”
The judge said that evidence on record indicated that one of the prosecution witnesses bought the phone from Mutebi for shs80, 000.
“A2 in this case said he was given the phone by A1 for sale after getting it from the deceased for shs100, 000 but bargained up to shs80, 000,” Justice Ssenoga said.
“This court finds that confession of A1 places both accused at the scene of crime and their defences are disproved. It is evident both set out to go and rob on New Year’s eve but it is unfortunate that the deceased fell prey to their evil plans.”
The judge said the duo attacked the deceased in a violent manner causing him several injuries and breaking his jaw before stealing his telephone and wallet that contained an unspecified amount of money.
“The death of Andrew Gatare occurred during the commission of an unlawful purpose by the two who showed a common intension to commit a robbery. Both accused persons are found guilty of murder and aggravated robbery and convicted as charged,” Justice Ssenoga ruled.
She however deferred the sentence of the convicts to July 22, 2019.