From the Pain of Arrest to a Promising Future - One Man’s Story
“I am a Kenyan in my mid-forties, married with three sons and three daughters. I was convicted and sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in 2014, which was later reduced to 20 years imprisonment, after my first appeal at the High Court.
I was brought up in a humble background faced with numerous financial constraints and had to struggle my way through life. Despite our financial problems I was able to perform fairly well in school. However, due to a lack of funds, I could not proceed to university but joined the teaching profession where I worked for more than 14 years. During this period, I was able to sponsor my siblings to further their studies. I was also able to assist my children who are now in high school and university. Although, I was interested in making progress in my education, I was unable to make ends meet.
It was during my arrest that shock befell me. It wasn’t I alone. My entire family and my immediate community saw this as the end. What had happened was beyond their understanding. Even my allies distanced themselves, since not all could visit me in prison. For this reason, I believed that life had lost all meaning.
While in prison, I met APP and was introduced to its programmes. Through paralegal work, I have learnt how to think positively. I have also learnt the necessary skills needed to represent myself in court. I am now able to help other inmates, working on their legal documents as many of them lack legal representation and are sometimes illiterate too.
In my time as a paralegal I have helped a number of inmates receive reduced sentences, while others have been acquitted. In addition to that, studying law has not only been a personal achievement for me, but my entire family has been very proud of the bold step that I have taken. The pain that they had upon my arrest has since been lost as they now see a promising future beyond imprisonment.
Previously, my children had almost lost hope in pursuing their education but today, they are motivated and encouraged to aim even higher in their studies with one of them studying law as a result.
I am sure and optimistic that as I get back to the society, I shall transform the community. It is my hope that APP continues to mentor many others like me.”
Melly is one of our law students and a paralegal from Naivasha Prison. In 2014, he was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment for a sexual offence. After his first appeal, his sentence was reduced to 20 years in line with the Sexual Offences Act.
Whilst in prison, he studied law and became a paralegal. Melly is currently in his second year as a law student with the University of London, and has 7 modules left to complete his LLB.
For his second appeal, he prepared all his submissions with the help of his colleagues at the Naivasha Prison legal aid clinic. He was able to instruct a lawyer to represent him, at the request of his family, who insisted that a lawyer would ensure that the court gave him the attention he deserved. However, the lawyer presented exactly what had been prepared by the paralegals in Naivasha.
On 20th June Melly attended the Court, with his lawyer, to appeal his conviction. During the hearing, one of the prosecution witnesses, the doctor that had provided the medical report of the victim to the court, stated that he had mis-lead the court. He then apologised that the report issued was not in fact accurate. Another witness, who was recalled by the court, was sent away, when it was realised he was not of sound mind.
The court identified that there was malice involved in Melly's case. HIs colleague, who had reported the matter to the police had purported to be the District Officer of Children's Rights. However, when he was asked for documents to prove his position, he was unable to do so.
Melly was acquitted after serving 5 years in prison.
Become a Changemaker
Through our Justice Changemaker programme we provide legal training for prisons and prison staff. Together they offer free legal services in the prisons where they live and work. Most inmates, cannot afford legal advice, and may be wrongfully convicted or sentenced, and held for many years. Some of our changemakers go on to study law via our partnership with the University of London, and last year 9 graduated with a world-class law degree.
Join Melly in providing access to justice for those who need it most.