10 October 2017

Kenya: Louis Otieno's Love for Expensive Cigars Revealed at Murder Inquest

Former television news anchor Louis Otieno's taste for fine things took the center stage during an inquest into the death Careen Chepchumba who was murdered five year ago.

It emerged that Careen could have differed with Mr Otieno over non-payment of a box of expensive cigars she had ordered from a duty free shop at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) a week prior to her death.

Mr Manase Mwaura Ngumi, a manager at the shop, testified on Monday that Mr Otieno had introduced Careen to him as his cigar manager.

"He used to visit our shop when flying out. One day he came with a lady called Careen and told me she was his cigar manager and would be handling his stock. We exchanged contacts with Careen and from that date she would order cigars," Mr Mwaura told the court.

BOX OF CIGARS

The court heard that a week before Careen was found dead in her apartment in Kilimani's Santonia court on February 14 2012, she ordered a box of 20 sticks of Davidov cigars valued at US310 dollars, an equivalent of Sh31,000 at the time.

"Louis used to purchase these cigars and was a regular customer especially when flying out" the witness said.

He said when Careen ordered the box of cigars, she said she would send a driver to pick it and promised to send payment through M-Pesa.

"She did not send the payment as promised. I called her after a day later and she told me she was with Louis in Marsabit shooting a documentary. She told me that they were in a remote area with no M-Pesa services and would send the amount later. She did not," the manager said.

HOSPITALISED

She later called to tell him they were back in Nairobi but Louis Otieno was hospitalised and would pay when discharged.

"Around that time, Louis called to order cigars. I declined and told him he had pending debt that he had not settled. He told me he had not directed Careen to purchase cigars and I should not have given her the cigars. I reminded him that he told me she was his cigar manager and had no reason to doubt her," Mr Mwaura told the court.

He narrated that Careen later called to plead with him to inform Mr Otieno she had cleared the debt but the manager declined.

"From that day, that was sometimes in early February 2012, she did not pick my calls until I learned from the media she had been murdered," he said.

BORROWED CASH

Asked whether he tried to seek other means to recover the debt, Mr Mwaura told the court that he called the driver who picked the cigar, a Mr Samuel, who informed him that Careen had also borrowed cash from him and until her death he had not paid him.

"He told me he had informed the burial committee but I chose not to do that. Having lost my mother, I know the pain of losing a loved one. It is like adding salt to an injury," Mr Mwaura said.

Several witnesses who testified earlier, including the Careen's father, told the court that she had borrowed heavily to finance Mr Otieno's flashy lifestyle. Mr Otieno denied having a love affair with the deceased but acknowledged that they were friends.

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