Briton accused of murdering girlfriend in Kenya to have second psychiatric test


Carl Singleton will undergo psychiatric testing to assess whether he is fit to stand trial. Facebook Photograph: Facebook

A British man accused by Kenyan police of killing his 22-year-old girlfriend by flushing her life-saving medication down the toilet will have to wait another fortnight to know whether he will be charged with murder.

Carl Singleton, 42, appeared before a judge in a Nairobi court on Thursday and was expected to take a plea over the death of university student Peris Ashley Agumbi, whom he met on Facebook, in the third week of November.

Cutting a gaunt figure in a faded blue T-shirt and tan corduroy shorts, the van driver watched as the prosecution counsel asked the court to postpone proceedings until a second psychiatric examination was conducted to assess whether he was fit to stand trial.

An earlier assessment returned an inconclusive verdict.

“We have asked for the suspect to be reassessed by a senior psychiatric consultant on February 23 and request that proceedings be moved to March 5 when a plea can be taken afresh,” Catherine Mwaniki, assistant director of public prosecutions, told the court.

The judge granted the request. Prosecutors say Singleton killed his girlfriend by confiscating the medication she needed to treat her diabetic condition which led to her death.

Before she died of diabetic hypertension and respiratory failure on 19 November, police say Agumbi had accused her boyfriend of assaulting her and taking away her medication.

Singleton has described the prosecution narrative as false and told reporters shortly after his arrest that he felt he had found love when he met the student. “I was so happy when I saw her at the airport. As soon as I saw her I knew she loved me. She was a very kind and caring young lady.”

The Cumbria van driver will now have to wait two weeks to know whether he will face charges of murder. The offence carries the death penalty in Kenya although in practice it is not carried out and condemned men have to endure life imprisonment under a harsh regime in crowded prisons.

The court process unfolds at a glacial pace in Kenya’s overstretched penal system and murder cases can last up to eight years.

Singleton’s defence counsel, Anthony Okulo, told the presiding judge, Roselyn Korir, that he would be applying for bail at the next hearing.

But the prosecution said any request for bail would be premature. “We do not know whether he will be found fit to stand trial. Maybe the doctor will recommend that he goes for treatment and that might take another 10 or even 30 years,” said Mwaniki, drawing chuckles from observers who had crowded into the courtroom and a half-smile from Singleton.

The couple met on Facebook two years ago and Singleton made the eight-hour journey to live with Agumbi in mid-2014.

The case has attracted considerable publicity in the local press. The leading newspaper, the Daily Nation, recently ran a front-page feature on what it described as a growing trend of young female Kenyans turning to the internet in search of lovers abroad.