Suspect ‘doesn’t recall’ driving hit-and-run van

A 39-year-old man who turned himself in to police in Ullensaker on Thursday in connection with the hit-and-run killing of 54-year-old Jeff Mwangi Kwirikia said he has no recollection of driving his vehicle at the time of the crash.

Jeff Mwangi Kwirikia, the father of popular Norwegian-Kenyan singer Stella Mwangi, died from his injuries after he was run over by a van on county road 454 on Tuesday afternoon. The driver fled the scene.

After police made an appeal for assistance, the suspect arrived at the station with his wife saying he had information pertaining to the case. He then accompanied police officers to his parents’ home in Råholt, south-eastern Norway.

In the adjoining garage, police found a Citroen Berlingo van with extensive damage to the front windscreen and the right-hand side of the vehicle. Police had earlier said they were looking for a van that matched this description.

The 39-year-old was charged on Thursday with manslaughter..

“I don’t want to get into what the 39-year-old has told us, but his description helped us find the van,” police spokesman Morten Huse told news agency NTB.

Police said the suspect was racked with emotion when he turned himself in. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years, or up to six years if there are found to be aggravating circumstances.

Defence lawyer Jørun Lægland said he attended a police interview with his client on Thursday.

“As I understand it the circumstances are unclear. My client discovered the damage to the van and went straight to the police,” said Lægland.

According to the lawyer, his client does not remember much from the last few days.

“He doesn’t deny doing this, but he has little memory from the past two days,” Lægland said on Thursday.

“It’s hard to get a proper overview of what happened.”

Police said they were pleased to have received a large number of witness reports from people who said they had seen the damaged van just after 2pm on Tuesday. The vehicle was seen headed in a northbound direction on the stretch of the Trondheim road between Dal and Råholt.

In light of descriptions they had received of the driver, police said they believed the suspect was most likely the person behind the wheel at the time of the hit-and-run collision.  

The damaged vehicle was removed from the garage in Råholt on Thursday for further investigation by police.

The victim's daughter, Stella Mwangi, 25, represented Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011.

She also recently appeared on television with her father in the Norwegian version of Let’s Dance, in which she was a participant.

“She’s not doing well at all. Stella was very close to her father. She is mainly mourning her loss, not hunting for the driver,” her future father-in-law, Per Rogstad, told newspaper Romerikes Blad on Thursday.

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