Remanded American couple committed to High Court for trial

American couple Mackienzi Spencer (L) and Nicholas Spencer (R) in the court dock on March 15, 2023. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

An American couple accused of aggravated trafficking and aggravated torture has today been committed to the High Court for trial.

Mr Nicholas Spencer and Ms Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer have been on remand since December last year after they were charged with two cases of aggravated trafficking and aggravated torture of a 10-year-old boy at their residence in Naguru, in Nakawa Division between December 2020 and December 2012.

Prosecution led by Ms Joan Keko while presenting committal papers before magistrate Sarah Tusiime Bashaija at Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court introduced two new charges against the couple.

The two new charges to which the couple is separately charged include an unlawful stay in the country and working without a permit.

According to the new charges, the prosecution states that Mackenzie between September 21, 2022, and December 2011 and Spencer between November 30, 2022, and December 2022 unlawfully stayed in Uganda.

It is further alleged that around the same period, the two worked in Uganda without a work permit or special pass contrary to Section 59(2) (a) of the Uganda Citizenship and immigration control Act CAP 66.

The prosecution contends that the accused couple has no valid defence and asked the trial court to convict them accordingly.

Court documents indicate that the victim was a pupil at Dawn Children’s Center- Special Children’s Trust and was living with the couple as his foster parents at their residence in Nagura Hill.

On trial, the state intends to rely on the police statement of Pamela Arinaitwe who was employed at the couple’s home for two years and six months as a house helper.

In her statement it is indicated that Arinaitwe reported a case of torture on December 7, 2022 at Kira Road police station having observed repeated unbecoming inhumane treatment of the victim by the couple.

Inhumane treatment to the victim included; isolation in a separate room and away from other children, sleeping on a wooden slab without a mattress, staying naked daily in one position on cold tiles with legs folded in certain positions, feeding on frozen food, under surveillance 24/7 via CCTV in his room among others.

The state also intends to rely on the communication book between Mackenzie and the teachers of the victim in which she recommended harsh punishment for the victim in the event of any conduct she considered unbecoming.

The couple waits for their bail ruling on March 21 in the High Court.