A call from the UK today, sparked off an internet search for news we had missed here in Kenya.
Alexander Monson (28yrs), son of Lord Nicholas Monson, died in Diani on saturday 19th May; it wasn’t reported until today.
In the world of news, a five day delay usually means something else is going on, whether political, familial, legal or security based, we don’t know.
The peripheral facts of this tragic death seem to be confused, but the core facts are consistent.
Alexander Monson was arrested outside a nightclub in Diani for smoking bhang. He was taken to the local police station, interviewed, and was later found in distress. He was taken to the local hospital where he died.
Its a simple and sad story emerging today but already the signs are that this one will not sit down easily.
The Kenyan press have so far produced two ‘inside’ articles, playing down the event and playing up the fact that he was caught with drugs. The emphasis is towards the police statement of care and commitment.
In the UK the tone is not so equivocal. The death, and strongly hinted at murder, of a British tourist is headline news, and made particularly more pertinent by Alexander Monsons’ high profile and family connections.
We simply don’t have enough information at this stage to add an educated opinion,
so for now we’ll leave you with a round up of what the papers and ‘net are saying so you can form your own opinions.
We believe however, that over the coming days more detailed and disturbing news is likely to emerge over this tragic loss of a promising young mans life.
The Obituary in todays Times (UK) was both simple and poignant:
Alexander, died in hospital in Kenya on 19th May 2012, aged 28. Much loved son of Nicholas and Hilary, adored brother of Isabella, and much loved grandson. Will be greatly missed by all the family and his many friends. Details of a Memorial Service in England to be announced.
Published in The Times on May 24, 2012
The Daily Telegraph was somewhat less forgiving:
Lord Monson calls for justice following unexplained death of son Alexander in Kenya
Alexander Monson, the aristocrat’s son who died in police custody in Kenya, lost his life from “a blow to the head”, his father said today.
Two separate reports were produced following a post-mortem on the 28-year-old former Marlborough College pupil’s body, and both indicated that the cause of death was “blunt force trauma”, Nicholas, 12th Baron Monson, said in a statement.
His son was arrested after he was found smoking a cannabis joint outside a nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning. Friends said that he was not injured at the time and showed no signs of any illness.
After brief questioning, he was left unattended in a cell for eight hours before he was found choking and close to unconsciousness, the Daily Telegraph has learned.
An initial post-mortem report showed that Mr Monson had a concussion and serious brain injuries, but Kenyan police today denied reports that they had mistreated him in custody.
“Our officers heard strange noises coming from his cell and when they entered inside, the man was on the floor and was choking,” Richard Muguai, chief of police in the district capital, Kwale, told The Daily Telegraph.
“Our officers immediately called an ambulance.”
He was then rushed to hospital, where doctors failed to resuscitate him despite more than five hours of treatment. He was pronounced dead at 5pm on Saturday.
“My family and I are utterly heartbroken by the death of my son Alexander,” Lord Monson said today.
“He was adored by everyone who knew him during his tragically short life.
“Two independent pathology reports were prepared, one on behalf of the Kenyan government and one on behalf of the family.
“Both reports conclude that the cause of Alexander’s death was ‘blunt force trauma’ – which means a blow to the head.”
Lord Monson called on both Kenya’s authorities and the Foreign Office to carry out thorough investigations, “to ensure that justice is done for Alexander”.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has sent their condolences,” he added.
His son was staying with relatives in Diani, Kenya’s most popular beach resort on its Indian Ocean coast south of Mombasa, the country’s second city.
Mr Monson’s mother, Hilary, 58, who is divorced from his father, owns and manages a boutique holiday lodge of six colonial cottages on Diani Beach that are for rent at up to £800 a night.
His sister, Isabella, lives in Nairobi and was today with other relatives, understood to include Lord Monson, at the cottages in Diani. Security staff at the compound said that they were too upset to talk.
Mr Monson, who works in both Kenya and Britain, is understood to have been taking a week’s holiday on the coast with his family when he went with friends to a local nightclub.
“He was openly smoking bhang [strong local cannabis] and our officers of course had to arrest him,” Mr Muguai said.
“I do not want to comment on these allegations that he was injured by our officers. It is not true, but to prove this, we have to wait for the full investigation to conclude.”
He said that a post-mortem, conducted in Mombasa by Kenya’s Ngari Mbuuko, the government pathologist, and a private specialist hired by Lord Monson, found serious brain injuries were the cause of death.
“The report I have is that the pathologist found that increased intracranial pressure caused by a blood drain into the head following a concussion was the reason the man died,” Mr Muguai said.
“Samples of blood and other tissues have been sent to Nairobi for analysis.”
Copies of the post-mortem, photographs and laboratory reports have also been sent to London for further analysis, sources in Mombasa said.
Mr Monson was found with the joint he was smoking as well as two white tablets that have been sent to Nairobi for chemical tests, Mr Muguai added.
The Nation had this to report:
British aristocrat’s son dies in Kenya
Kwale county police boss Richard Muguai during a news conference at his office in Kwale where he said Briton Alexander Monson was pronounced dead on arrival at the Palm Beach Hospital in Diani.
The son of a British aristocrat, Alexander Monson, who was arrested in Kenyan coastal town of Diani for allegedly smoking bhang has died.
Kwale police boss Richard Mugwai confirmed the death of Mr Monson saying he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital for treatment.
Mr Mugwai said he could have died of other complications.
However, a close friend of Mr Monson, son of the 12th Baron (Nicholas) Monson, sensationally claimed ‘police brutality’ was a contributing factor in his death.
The friend was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: “He was a great guy and I would love to see those bastards go to jail for what they have done.
“His death was a result of a combination of things. I wouldn’t say it was murder, but it was definitely a case of neglect. He was being held in custody and was not given the medical assistance he needed. It wasn’t a pre-existing medical condition, it was something else that started it. Perhaps a certain amount of police brutality.”
Mr Monson lived in London but was on holiday in Diani.
A commentator on Wazua is slightly more specific:
“After spending billions to get tourist here, our police cause high value tourist to die trying to get bribes for bhang.”
The Evening Standard in London take a step further:
The son of an aristocrat died after being hit on the head in police custody in Kenya, it was revealed today. Alexander Monson, 28, was killed by “blunt force trauma following his arrest for smoking cannabis, according to two official reports.
Today his father, Nicholas Monson, appealed for justice and demanded action from the Foreign Office. The 12th baron, 56, said: “My family and I are utterly heartbroken by the death of my son Alexander.
“He was adored by everyone who knew him during his tragically short life. Both reports conclude that the cause of Alexander’s death was blunt force trauma. We are appealing to the Kenyan authorities and the
Foreign Office to ensure that justice is done for Alexander.” The former Marlborough College pupil, a contemporary of Pippa Middleton, was taken ill hours after being arrested for smoking cannabis outside a nightclub in the Indian Ocean beach resort of Diani.
The two independent pathology reports were released today, one on behalf of the Kenyan government and one for the family.
Mr Monson had been living in Diani, on and off for two years, with his mother Hilary, 58, and sister Isabella, 25, who own holiday cottages in the popular resort.
Police spokesman Richard Mugwai, of the Kwale County division, said: “Part of the pathologist’s summary reads ‘intracranial pressure due to brain concussion following blood drain into head’, but we don’t want to form any outside opinion.”
After Mr Monson’s death on Saturday a close friend suggested one cause may have been rough treatment by police. Today, deputy police commissioner Aggrey Adoli maintained that officers had treated him well.
He said: “This person was found by members of the public smoking bhang (cannabis) outside Daduri nightclub and immediately police officers went there to arrest him. He was not beaten on any of those occasions. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and speculative.
“When he was in custody he complained of feeling dizziness and unwell, and immediate arraignment was done. Then he was rushed to Palm Beach Hospital with highly-qualified and experienced doctors, and died in their hands while being examined.”
Mr Adoli added that drugs were found in Mr Monson’s clothes.
“A half-smoked ‘sativa’ cannabis was recovered from him and a further search was conducted and two white tablets were found in his trousers. The tablets have been taken to a government chemist for analysis.”
The Standard Coast Edition had this to say:
Drugs found on dead British tourist
Police say they found a number of drugs on British tourist and aristocrat Alexander Monson, who died at a Kwale hospital on Saturday.
Mr Monson was in police custody for possession of cannabis sativa.
But the alleged discovery of what is believed to be prescription drugs is bound to generate new questions about the circumstances of his death and his personal lifestyle because the drugs police allege they found on him are used to treat ailments and perform procedures Monson was not, publicly, associated with.
Now Kwale police plan an inquest under a magistrate’s order to determine circumstances leading to his death at Palm Beach Hospital, moments after falling ill at Diani Police Station cells. Their commander says any officer who handled and processed the Briton will be questioned for statements for the inquest.
Kwale OCPD Richard Muguai on Thursday denied reports by the deceased’s friends in the Daily Mail suggesting the 28-year-old heir to the Monson baronetcy could have died from negligence or some form of brutality.
Mr Muguai provided a version of events that indicates Kwale police tried all they could to save Monson’s life after he fell ill.
Muguai acknowledged that Monson, who entered Kenya on April 23 according to the British press, was arrested at Tanduri Night Club in Kwale smoking bhang.
He was detained for the night awaiting drug possession charges on Monday when he fell ill and was taken to hospital.
The OCPD claimed that other drug pellets and tablets were later found on Monson and classified by medical experts as Tadalafel, Ketamine and Diazepam.
“We have taken all these (drugs) to the Government Chemist to determine what they were and what they are for,” said the OCPD, who also alleged that the body was taken to Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa where an autopsy was done.
Muguai disclosed that Kenyan police also took blood and tissue samples for analysis at the Government Chemist in readiness for the inquest he says is now underway.
According to the Daily Mail, Monson “lived in London but spent much of the year in Kenya with his mother Hilary, 58, and sister Isabella, 25”. Members of his family operate “the Four Twenty South complex of self-catering cottages in Diani, where accommodation can cost up to £800 (Sh107,000) a night”.
The Daily Mail (UK)
Baron’s son dies in Kenya resort after drug arrest: Friends claim that ‘police brutality’ may have been a factor
- Former Marlborough schoolboy became ill after being detained by police
- Cause of death still under investigation friend says ‘it wasn’t murder but was definitely police neglect’
- Dead man is son of Nicholas Monson – 12th Baron of Monson
- Suspected he smoked backpacker drug ‘bhang’ a local variety of cannabis
- Arrested outside nightclub on suspicion of smoking illegal substance
Former Marlborough schoolboy Alexander Monson, 28, was taken ill a few hours after he was detained by officers in the coastal town of Diani.
But he died shortly after being taken to hospital for treatment, local police said.
The cause of death was still under investigation last night, with the dead man’s family waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination before making a statement.
But a close friend of Mr Monson, son of the 12th Baron (Nicholas) Monson, sensationally claimed ‘police brutality’ was a contributing factor in his death.
The friend said: ‘He was a great guy and I would love to see those bastards go to jail for what they have done.
‘His death was a result of a combination of things. I wouldn’t say it was murder, but it was definitely a case of neglect. He was being held in custody and was not given the medical assistance he needed. It wasn’t a pre-existing medical condition, it was something else that started it. Perhaps a certain amount of police brutality.’
Contemporaries of Mr Monson at £30,300-a-year Marlborough College in Wiltshire included Pippa Middleton, also 28, but it is unclear whether they were friends.
Mr Monson lived in London but spent much of the year in Kenya with his mother Hilary, 58, and sister Isabella, 25.
The pair run the Four Twenty South complex of self-catering cottages in the Indian ocean resort of Diani, where accommodation can cost up to £800 a night.
His maternal grandparents bought the business in the 1960s.
As the heir to the Monson baronetcy, Alexander was born into a life of privilege.
His paternal grandfather was Lord Monson, a Lincolnshire landowner and peer. He was a champion of personal liberties who later became president of the Society for Individual Freedom.
When the 11th baron died last year, the title passed to Alexander’s father, Nicholas John Monson, born in 1955.
It is believed Baron (Nicholas) Monson, a publisher, is currently in Kenya with his third wife, Silvana.
Last night the dead man’s grandmother, Lady Emma Monson, said: ‘I’m a widow myself. I’m bereaved. I’m now grieving for my grandson. I’m extremely upset and I just can’t talk about it.’
Kenyan Police said Mr Monson died in hospital on Saturday following his arrest.
Police spokesman Richard Mugwai said he had been in custody for just a few hours when he was rushed to hospital after starting to feel sick.
The officer said: ‘He was arrested outside a nightclub under the suspicion of having taken drugs.
‘We made preparations to interview and charge him but he then felt sick. We took him to the hospital and he died in the hands of the doctors.’
It is believed Mr Monson, who studied at London’s City University until 2008, entered Kenya on April 23 and was due to fly home on July 10.
Mr Mugwai, the commander of Kenya’s coastal Kwale County police division, said Mr Monson was taken to the police station under suspicion of having smoked bhang, a local variety of cannabis.
He was later moved to the nearby Palm Beach Hospital, where he died.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We have been providing consular assistance.’
Bhang is a natural drug made from dried seeds and leaves from the female cannabis plant. Its use originated in India and it is illegal in many countries. Popular on the backpacking scene, users often mix it with fruit or alcohol.
On his Facebook page, Mr Monson’s father describes himself as ‘an enthusiastic cook, a relentless writer, an occasional poet, a passionate advocate, a wayward disciple of the teachings of Epicurus and the Stoics and a devoted Apostle of Alain de Botton’.
Last night a friend who knew the Monson family when they lived in Bampton, Oxfordshire, said: ‘It’s awful what happened, it makes me feel sick.
‘I heard he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly with a friend. The friend was released but apparently they found drugs on Alexander so he was handcuffed and taken.’