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Lesley Sercombe, the jockey with a gift to communicate with animals

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By DEJA VU
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With Ngong Racing about to resume October 7, Nation.co.ke caught up with Lesley Jane Sercombe one of the racing legends who began riding at a tender age.

At ten years old, Lesley knew that becoming a jockey was an absolute priority. Second prerogative, was learning veterinary skills.

Now 44, Lesley has fulfilled those ideals. Enlisting herself at Kabete University a few years ago, was a strenuous challenge, considering horse racing is physically demanding. Then, digging up motivation to absorb intricacies of chemistry, physics, and biology, is mentally exhausting.

Driving to Kabete after unsociable morning galloping commitments, lent itself to the stresses of traffic. So, Lesley thought a good idea would be to ride her mountain bike, and maybe avoid such obstacles.

Unfortunately, while it did save plenty idling hours, Lesley was struck by wayward motorists, even to the point of breaking her arm (for the umpteenth time).  

She simply returned home unaccompanied, on the bike, in pain, as a lady endowed with enormous courage. 

Jockey Lesley Sercombe after winning the Salama

Jockey Lesley Sercombe after winning the Salama Fikira Kenya Derby Trophy on April 14, 2013 at Ngong race Course. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Patsy, sharply commandeered her daughter to Karen Hospital for immediate treatment. A minor chestnut, amid a volume of calamities that our Lesley has had to endure. Being such a resolutely determined young lady, she simply ignores adversities, carrying on relentlessly, with a smile on her dial.

Well educated at Banda, Hillcrest, and, St. John’s, Marlborough, Lesley is extremely interesting to gabble with, on any given subject.

She regards Italian Ace jockey, Frankie Dettori, among her list of heroes, both for his exquisite talents, and, charismatic aura.

Pre-eminence, of course, is lavished upon Patsy, and, John, whom she deifies. They are models of accomplishment in every aspect of animal welfare, being veterinary surgeons of specialist dimensions.

Patsy has been entrenched as undoubtedly the best trainer eternally, in Kenya – way over 20 championships.

She still manages to keep contact with several grand-children, courtesy of Lesley’s twin sister, Doctor Linda Thorpe, and, Vicky D’Arcy.

Both sisters have indulged with horses, in the past, but now only Linda enters show-jumping events at Jamhuri Park.

Lesley Sercombe

Jockey Lesley Sercombe after winning the Kidman Memorial Bowl in 2012. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ex-racehorses, Golden Ash, Cabin Fever, Antar Yami, and, Northern Frontier, are Linda’s chosen, few for this sport.

Lesley’s exploits have not stagnated in Kenya alone. She spread extra racing feathers successfully in India, Bangalore, Mysore, and, Zimbabwe.

Fearlessly sensible, she believes “anything is possible with effort, no matter what your age. Failure arrives when people cease to try. God granted me a gift to communicate with animals – specifically horses.

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They tend to respond graciously to my wishes, without necessity for harshness. Thrills in winning races are pure, constant, tonics. Each strike, is as if it were the first. “

Lesley domiciles at the racecourse with six friendly dogs. They also need their constitutional walk at sunset, after intellectual absorption.

Her partner is continuously supportive of all Lesley’s strict adherences. University hours are arduously 8-5, most days, which is plenty than enough, without the already rigorous preparations of thoroughbreds.

As if that were not a tight docket, Lesley acquired an International Sports Science qualification as a personal trainer, which she squeezes in constructively, here and there.

Lesley Sercombe

Lesley Sercombe displays her trophy after winning the Britam Kenya Guineas 2018 at Ngong Race course in January 2018. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“No talent or wit can beat kindness. It sits quietly beyond all things. The best way forward is to permanently keep attempting the impossible. Failure can only manifest when you and your heart give up,” says Lesley. “Life has to be lived by the minute. Round that corner does not exist. Thank God ad-infinitum,” she adds.

No particular selection of favourite horses, because, each decade seems to add on to a ceaseless list. Remember Simonstown, Warwickshire Lad, Harry Potter, Westonian? Now, Free Wheeler and White Dragon, are topping the charts.

Mrs Spenser has become the yard’s most prolific owner, slightly over-taking Mim Haynes on leader-board status. She was introduced to the Sercombe’s, by Venetia Philips in 2016.

Lesley burst upon Ngong with a mighty double of Apprentice, and Jockey championships. She has now accumulated another thirteen professional championships, to buckle Joe Diver’s long-standing record. Needless to say, Lesley is as humble as ever.

Fans would never realise how perilously ill she has been, contracting an auto-immune disease called Myasthenia Gravis. It requires permanent medication, for abatement of symptoms, but there is no cure.

You may recall how racing suffered for a whole year with no sighting of Lesley. The condition zapped her strength completely. It has softened her craziness of doing too much, or accepting rodeo rides.

Cognitive obligations, animals, criminal drama’s on TV, are pretty well what Lesley can handle. She unwinds with Rizzoli & Isles, CSI, things like that, before retiring. Lesley is confident that racing will thrive again as before.

The yard has reduced in size, but, magnified in quality. A few more South African youngsters are expected to be bought, adding to those bred locally.

Commenting on apprentices, Lesley feels they are a little wayward, but, it is only a process of their learning curve.

Regarding gallops, there is a huge improvement, with assistance from Oliver Gray. Father, John, is Clerk of the Course on Sundays. 



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Sentence Jane Muthoni to death, the State urges court in husband murder case

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Jane Muthoni hired men, including her co-accused, to kill her husband Solomon Mwangi in November 2016. [File, Standard]

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) wants Jane Muthoni, who was found guilty of her husband’s murder on April 22, sentenced to death.
Muthoni, alongside her co-accused Isaac Ng’ang’a, was declared guilty of Solomon Mwangi’s murder, which occurred in November 2016.
State Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki told the Nakuru High Court on Tuesday, May 18 that the crime committed by the two; and the manner in which the murder was executed, “deserves a severe punishment such as death sentence”.
“This is a case that meets the threshold of a death penalty,” said Mwaniki.
“We are looking at the seriousness of the acts that led to Solomon Mwangi’s death. In our conclusion, we pray that this court finds that the element of the statutory premeditation was satisfied in this case,” she submitted.
According to the prosecutor, her team proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there was “substantial orchestration and planning” of Mwangi’s execution by Muthoni and Ng’ang’a.
“Mwangi’s death was not caused by a spontaneous act of violence, or an act of self-defense by the accused,” said Mwaniki, who proposed Muthoni and Ng’ang’a be sentenced to death.
Lawyer Wokabi Mathenge, who represented Solomon Mwangi’s family in the case, reiterated the Prosecution’s recommendation, terming Mwangi’s killing as “Murder Most Foul”.

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“He was defenseless while being killed,” said Mathenge.
The lawyer said Muthoni was yet to express any remorse to Mwangi’s family over his murder.
“The first accused (Muthoni), being a teacher, was expected to impart ethics to learners. In this case, she was the mastermind of her husband’s death. She, therefore, conducted herself in a manner not expected of a person of her stature,” said Mathenge.
According to the lawyer, Mwangi’s murder deprived his four children of fatherly love.
“We urge the court to find that a death sentence will suffice. Mwangi’s death was premeditated and well-planned,” he emphasised.
The accused’s lawyer, Francis Njanja, however defended Muthoni and Ng’ang’a against death sentence, stating the two have cooperated with the courts thus far.
Njanja maintained that even though the courts found the duo guilty of murder, they were “still innocent”.
Muthoni, who addressed the court via video conferencing, pleaded her innocence, saying her family had suffered throughout the period she’s been in custody.
“I’m the only hope and surviving breadwinner in my family. My children are suffering, yet those who killed my husband are out there walking freely,” she said.
Ng’ang’a, on his part, pleaded with the court to consider a lenient sentence on him.
Justice Joel Ngugi said the two persons will be sentenced on June 3, 2021.
How Mwangi’s murder was planned
During the trial, the court heard that in early November 2016, Muthoni hired two men to kill her spouse, the principal of Kiru Boys’ High School in Mathioya, Murang’a County. One of the hired killers was Muthoni’s co-accused, Isaac Ng’ang’a. The other, Nelson Njiru, disappeared shortly after learning that Muthoni and Ng’ang’a were being hunted.
Muthoni had been directed to Ng’ang’a and Njiru by Joseph Kariuki, who turned into a Prosecution witness following a plea negotiation. Kariuki was, however, sentenced to seven years in jail for manslaughter.
Upon arrest in mid-November 2016, Muthoni and Ng’ang’a, alias Gikuyu, were charged with Solomon Mwangi’s murder.
The court, through Kariuki, heard that Muthoni engineered her husband’s killing after he allegedly kick-started a relationship with another woman, identified in court as MWK or M-Pesa Lady. The plan was to eliminate Mwangi’s lover and then kill him, the court was told.
After four years in court, the case came to a close on Thursday, April 22, 2021, when Muthoni and Ng’ang’a were declared guilty of Mwangi’s murder.
“The offence of murder is established against both the first and second accused persons (Muthoni and Ng’ang’a respectively). Consequently, I find and hold that both accused persons are guilty of the murder of the deceased. I hereby convict both of them accordingly,” Justice Ngugi pronounced himself on the case.
In the ruling, the judge observed that Muthoni did not physically kill Mwangi, but “evidence demonstrated that she was the author of the plot”.
Muthoni reportedly parted with Sh50,000 for Mwangi’s killing, which was conducted by Ng’ang’a and another person not before the court Nelson Njiru. The hired killers strangled Mwangi to death on November 6, 2016, and dumped his body in Karakuta Coffee Estate in Juja, Kiambu County.
The court relied on 18 SMSs between Muthoni and Njiru, and 21 Prosecution witnesses to conclude that Muthoni had masterminded her husband’s murder.

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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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You should be humble, Tuju tells judges after BBI ruling

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Judges should be humble and realise that they depend on other arms of government like the police, even as they exercise their authority in court, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has said.

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Court Postpones Sentencing of Ex-School Head Convicted of Husband’s Murder –

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A Nakuru Court on Tuesday postponed the sentencing of Jane Muthoni, the former principal of Icaciri Secondary School in Kiambu.

Muthoni was last month found guilty of killing her husband, Solomon Mwangi, who then was the principal of Kiru Boys Secondary, Murang’a County.

The former school head will be sentenced on June 3.

The prosecution asked for the death sentence.

She and her co-accused Isaac Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu were alleged to have committed the offence on diverse dates between November 6 and November 11, 2016, at Karakuta Coffee Estate in Juja sub-county, Kiambu County.

She claimed it was her husband’s colleagues who orchestrated the murder after he refused to play into their game over transfers.

Muthoni told the court that the principals, who influenced transfers and promotions of teachers in the region, were aggrieved after Mbuthi was posted to the school while she was promoted to head Icaciri Secondary School without going through them.

Muthoni alleged that the cartel had demanded Sh1 million from them to facilitate their transfer to schools of their choice.

Read: Widow of Slain Kiiru Boys Principal Convicted of Murder

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The court heard that the cartel framed Muthoni after killing her husband.

She was accused of having hired four people to kill her husband after suspecting him of having extramarital affairs.

One of the suspects identified as Joseph Kariuki Njuguna alias Karis confessed to being part of a gang hired by the slain principal’s wife to commit the crime.

In a 10-page confession that placed Muthoni at the murder scene, Njuguna pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in a plea bargain arrangement that saw him agree to be a prosecution witness.

He was sentenced to seven years in jail by Kiambu High Court judge Joel Ngugi in March 2017.

In his ruling, the judge stated that it was evident the accused was not directly involved in the planning and execution of the murder, terming him a reluctant participant who did it for money.

He, however, faulted him for doing nothing to prevent the murder.

The fourth suspect, Nelson Njiru, is still at large.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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