Kenyan man accused of secretly marrying woman in US behind the back of Kenyan wife set free
A Kenyan man accused of marrying a woman in Jersey City while still married to another in Kenya has been set free by the courts after being found not guilty.
Mr Douglas Ndenga Akhonya was accused of lying to a woman in Jersey City that he was single. They went ahead and got married in July 2015.
The Royal Court, in its ruling, said that the case against Mr Akhonya should be dropped because the prosecution team did not provide a Kenyan marriage expert to ascertain whether he had indeed married a woman in his home country.
He was accused of bigamy – the criminal offence of marrying a person while already being married to another – and knowingly providing false information for the purposes of intended marriage.
In July 2015, Mr Akhonya married a woman in Jersey, claiming he was single. But a Kenyan woman came forward saying that he had wed her in March 2008, and they were still married at the time of his marriage on the Island.
A civil servant from a marriage registry in Kenya produced a document certifying the marriage.
However, the civil servant was not a professional legal expert, and some forms of marriage in Kenya are polygamous and allow a man to have more than one wife.
Mr Akhonya said that in any case, he had not been properly married to the woman in Kenya but had entered into a ‘customary law union’, an arrangement under Kenyan law which would ensure he would have access to their son.
In his written judgment, Commissioner Sir William Bailhache said: ‘In order to establish its case, the Crown must prove that it was a monogamous first marriage, and expert evidence will be needed.
‘In its absence, there would be a submission of no case to answer because there would be no evidence fit to put before the jury on that important prerequisite for establishing guilt.’
The prosecution asked for more time to obtain evidence from a Kenyan legal expert.
However, Sir William said: ‘The evidence now sought to be admitted was always a necessary part of the prosecution case and should have been obtained much earlier.’
He concluded: ‘Formal verdicts of not guilty are entered on the indictment.’