High Court judge Flavia Anglin Ssenoga on Monday sentenced two men to 30-years in jail for murdering Andrew Gatare, a Rwandan National and former student of Columbia College in Canada. Justice Anglin found Ronald Mutebi and Geoffrey Lubwama alias Jeff guilty of murder and aggravated robbery.
Gatare met his death at around 1:30am on January 1, 2015 along Nile Avenue on his way home after watching fireworks at Serena Hotel. The assailants stole the deceased’s black berry phone valued at more than 1 million shillings and sold it off at 100,000shs but only received 40,000shs in cash.
Delivering her sentence, Justice Anglin said the victim was targeted by the convicts as part of their meditated plan. She noted that although their charges are grave in nature, the death sentence is no longer mandatory and therefore handed them a 30-year jail term.
“Such unlawful conduct has to be condemned to send out a message that crime cannot be tolerated," Anglin said.
The judge added that the sentence is also meant to deter other would be offenders from committing similar crimes. "Over the weekend, I saw in the news someone saying even if you take me my people will bail me out. We want to send a message that you cannot commit a crime and get away with it,” she said.
The Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, MS Florence Akello had asked court to hand the convicts a deterrent sentence, arguing that they planned to end Gatare's life. She noted that Gatare was just 19 years old whose life was ended abruptly yet he had a very bright future ahead of him.
But the convicts through their lawyers, Fredrick Mbazira and Faizal Murangira asked court to give them a lenient sentence arguing that they are first time offenders and of middle age. The convicts are in their mid-30s. Mbazira asked court to hand Mutebi a 15-year sentence while Murangira asked that Lubwama be handed 10 years for each counts, saying they will reform.
"My Lord we send our sincere condolences to the family that lost its beloved one, but our journey to reform has just started," said Murangira. He further told court that Lubwama lost one of his children while in Luzira and thus needed to return home to resume his parental responsibilities.
Mbazira also said Mutebi has school going children including a four-year-old he has never seen because he was arrested when the mother was expecting. The deceased’s relatives welcomed the judgment, saying they hope Gatare will now rest in peace.