Kenyan judge rejects bid to drop cocaine smuggling charges against Briton Jack Marrian

Jack Marrian Port of Mombasa
Main Image of Port of Mombasa by Marisol Grandon/DFID (used under the Creative Commons licence). Right: Jack Marrian

Despite the public prosecutor moving to drop charges of smuggling almost 100g of cocaine into Mombasa against British sugar trader Jack Marrian last week, a Kenyan magistrate dramatically failed to annul the case yesterday.

In a surprise development, the Kenyan judge ordered proceedings against Mr Marrian to continue, justifying his decision by saying that he found the timing of the prosecution’s application to abandon the case “suspicious”.

In July 2016, cocaine worth more than £4 million was found in a shipping container from Brazil at Mombasa Port bound for Mr Marrian’s company, following a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

However, during his trial the defence team presented a letter from the DEA stating that Mr Marrian, a grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in his shipment.

“It is clear from intelligence that the load was placed in the container unbeknownst to the owner of the sugar. This is a common occurrence used by traffickers in South America,” the letter reportedly said.

Addressing the Kibera law court yesterday, magistrate Derrick Kutto said: “The application by the DPP [Director of Public Prosecution] is declined.

“I direct that the defence hearing be done on priority for the court to make a final decision,” he added.

A visibly shocked Mr Marrian hung his head in disappointment as Judge Kutto announced his decision, but his defence lawyer, Andrew Wandabwa, said that his team would appeal the ruling to Kenya’s high court.

The prosecution also said it was surprised by the judge’s decision and would support the defence to have the case dropped.

Speaking outside the court, prosecutor Jacob Ondari said: “We are quite surprised by the turn of events. We don’t agree with the magistrate because we think he over-reached his mandate and therefore we are going to appeal.”

Mr Marrian was raised in Kenya, where his paternal grandfather was a minister in the colonial government just before the country’s independence in 1963.

The drugs were seized from a shipping container in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, following a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

During his trial the defence team presented a letter from the DEA stating that Mr Marrian could have had no knowledge that the drugs were stashed in his shipment.

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