The self-styled evangelical preacher Gilbert Juma Deya has been acquitted in the child-trafficking and “miracle babies” scandal by a Nairobi court for lack of evidence.
A judgement rendered by Senior Principal Magistrate Robison Ondieki on Monday, July 17, 2023, freed the preacher after the prosecution failed to prove the criminal trial that involves allegations of stealing five children two decades ago.
"After evaluation of the evidence adduced by 26 prosecution witnesses, 64 exhibits and the defence of Deya. l find no evidence was adduced linking the accused person to the charges of child stealing. I, therefore, acquit him under section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)," ruled the magistrate.
Magistrate Ondieki also ordered Deya's cash bail which he had deposited in court to be refunded back to him.
Deya has been charged with five counts of stealing five children, all aged under 14 years, between 2002 and 2004, in Mountain View Estate, Nairobi.
In his decision, the Magistrate concurred with Deya's defence that the Prosecution did not table any evidence to show that at the time he was abroad, he gave any instruction to anybody to keep the five children in his Mountain View House No.226 in Nairobi.
The ruling comes 11 years after a Kibera court acquitted his wife Mary Deya in relation to the same charges of the 'miracle babies saga'.
Mary Deya was accused of procuring registration births of the five children in Ochien Grace Medical Clinic and Maternity Home and in New Gathecha Estate nursing and maternity home which she alleged to be hers.
But she was however convicted for stealing a baby on September 10, 2005, at the Kenyatta National Hospital, and giving false information to Dr James Kiarie that she had given birth to the child in question.
Mary's husband Deya had early this year urged Magistrate Ondieki to acquit him of all the charges on grounds that they were malicious and meant to tarnish his name as 'a man of God'.
In his defence, Deya said that at the time of the alleged offence, he was in the UK where his church ministry is based.
"Your honour I did not process a birth certificate for the alleged children and the DNA result did not show that the children were mine," Deya said.
Deya, who claimed he created miraculous pregnancies, had been on trial for five counts of child stealing. His court trial commenced on August 4, 2017, after he was extradited from the United Kingdom.
The Prosecution had alleged that Deya committed the offence together with others not before the court at Mountain View Estate, House number 226 in Nairobi within the Nairobi Area. It added that the offences were committed on diverse dates between May 20, 2002, and August 19, 2004.
The court heard that House No. 226 Mountain View Estate Nairobi where the children were found was owned by Deya and Mary Juma Deya jointly and that they were a couple living together in the house.
The Prosecution also stated that it had demonstrated that birth registration documents in respect to the five children produced in court indicated Deya as the father of the children.
“The birth registrations of these five children were obtained fraudulently. Mr and Ms Deya were excluded as biological parents of the five children,” the Prosecution in the written arguments said.
Among the Prosecution witnesses who testified in court is Lilian Kiamba, a police investigator attached Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and a registration officer charged with registration of births and deaths in the Nairobi district who testified on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
Kiamba investigated the scandal together with other four officers. They commenced investigations following a report in a local daily newspaper where an old couple was featured narrating how they had delivered miracle babies following prayers by Deya and his wife Mary. The preacher was operating the Gilbert Deya Ministries church.
"The investigations led the team to a house within Komarock Estate, Nairobi, where they traced the couple and 11 children aged below five years. The couple and the said children were detained by the police and blood samples of the children and the couple were thereafter extracted and forwarded to the Government Chemist for DNA analysis," Kiamba said.
The couple, whose names were withheld for legal reasons, indicated that the children were born at Lucy’s Medical Clinic, Huruma Ngomongo Clinic and Gatecha Clinic in Dandora.
She further testified that on August 19, 2004, and on the strength of the information received from the couple linking the Deyas, the investigation team went to Mountain View Estate House Number 226 which belonged to the Deyas.
At the house, the officers found Deya's wife Mary, Miriam Nyeko (a Ugandan) and Rose Kiserem all of whom were interviewed and later detained for further investigations.
Upon inquiry, they were informed that the house belonged to the Deyas.
"Mary Deya was interviewed but denied there were any miracle babies in the house. She took the (investigating) team to a room where the team found one child and a lady who introduced herself as Miriam Nyeko, a Ugandan. However upon search, the team found nine children aged five years and below locked inside one of the rooms,” the officer narrated to the court.
She further stated that Mary gave the investigation team 14 birth certificates for the children. The birth certificates showed that Deya was the father of the children.
"The birth certificates were taken as exhibits and the 10 children recovered and taken to Kabete Children home pending investigation," Kiamba told the court.
The investigations aimed to establish the true biological parents of the 10 children found in the house.
The 10 children were taken to Nairobi Children Home in Kabete where their blood samples were taken by Dr Moses Njue Gachoka and forwarded to the Government Chemist for DNA analysis.
Two of the children among the 10 were found to be genuine children of Mary Deya and Gilbert Deya which was ascertained through DNA tests, the court heard.
DNA report dated April 14, 2005, concluded that Deya and his wife Mary were excluded as the biological parents to five of the children.
"It is thus clear that the accused person was not the biological father of the five children the subject matter of this case. Therefore the accused person having harboured these children in his house had intended to deprive their parents, guardians or lawful care or charge of the same," the Investigating officer said.
"In respect to three other children, the investigator said there was a lady who was in the house that claimed to be the mother. But upon further investigations, it was revealed that she was not the mother of the said children. She became the subject of a separate inquiry file," Kiamba said.
The remaining five children were thus the ones in the list in the Prosecution charge sheet because both Deya and his wife could not prove that they were their children.
The court further heard that after examination of the birth certificates and registers of birth, the age of the mother was inconsistent.
The court heard that the birth certificates were issued by three unlicensed medical facilities in Nairobi namely; New Gathecha Estate Nursing & Maternity Home, Ochieng Grace Medical Clinic Maternity, Mimilu Maternity Home and Bungoma.
Another witness, Irene Friendrike Boumgartner, from Kabete Children's Home where the children were living, told the court that the children were troubled by the lack of their biological parents.
"…the children are all troubled by their history asking themselves their roots … they have been deprived of their rightful parents and the biggest challenge is the trauma and the psychological question of where their parents are," Friendrike said.