Thomas P. G. Cholmondeley

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The Hon. Tom Cholmondeley
Born (1968-06-19) 19 June 1968 (age 48)
Nairobi, Kenya
Nationality Kenyan
Ethnicity British
Citizenship Kenyan
Education Eton College
Occupation Farmer, businessman
Known for Ethnic minority landowner and manslaughter
Partner(s) Sally Dudmesh (div.)
Children Henry and Hugh Cholmondeley
Parent(s) The Rt. Hon. The 5th Baron Delamere and Ann, Baroness Delamere (née Renison)

Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley (pr: /ˈʌmli/ CHUM-lee); born 19 June 1968, is a Kenyan farmer of British ancestry. He is the great-grandson of the Lord Delamere, one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya.[1] He is in line to become the next, 6th, Baron Delamere.[2]

In April 2005, he shot and killed a Kenya Wildlife Service game ranger on his ranch. He claimed self-defence, and the murder case was dropped before going to trial.[3] In May 2006, he shot and killed a poacher on his Soysambu estate near Lake Naivasha. He was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter[4] and sentenced to serve eight months in prison. He was released on 23 October 2009.[5]

Early life[edit]

Tom Cholmondeley is a great-grandson of The 3rd Baron Delamere (1870–1931), a pioneering settler in Kenya who was the effective "founder" of the White community in that country. Tom is the only son and heir of The 5th Baron Delamere (b. 1934) and his wife Anne, née Renison. His family is one of the large-scale landowners in Kenya.[1] He is also a descendant of Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.[6]

After prep school at Pembroke House, in the town of Gilgil, Kenya, and Ashdown House School, in the village of Forest Row in East Sussex, he was educated at Eton College. After school he worked on various farms for his "pupil year", including time working on Kenneth Matiba's farm, Wangu Embori.


He attended the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, 1987–1990, and then worked for the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation in Andover, Great Britain. Back in Kenya from 1991 he started working for his family farming business and was then involved in many developing projects.

He established a game cropping enterprise on Soysambu Ranch, the vast family estate in Kenya, which ran from 1992–2003, and which employed 15 people as well as building a modern abattoir and cold storage facilities.

He is also responsible for the design and layout of the Soysambu Wildlife Sanctuary and the building of Delamere's Camp in 1993, a high-class tourist lodge with a 6,000-acre (24 km2) exclusive sanctuary covering the area around Lake Elmenteita.

In 1994 he was made a Director of Delamere Estates and in 1995 the chairman of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy, a position he was elected to twice again.

In 1996 he introduced the first centre pivot irrigation into Naivasha and eventually the scheme covered over 600 acres (2.4 km2) and provided employment for approximately 500 people.

In the same year he organised the reconstruction of the "Delamere Milk Shop" into a petrol station on the outskirts of Naivasha, the A104 highway. This is now a massive concern and Kenya's busiest farm shop. Of note is the constructed wetland to cope with the sewage resulting from over 3000 customers per day.

His energies turned to building the first straw bale building in Gilgil, the location being on the edge of the Otutu forest. He created the leases and design criteria for two further tourist lodges, Mbweha Camp on the edge of Lake Nakuru National Park, and Mawe Mbili lodge. This is part of the greater plan for the Soysambu Conservancy, together with the establishment of two forestry partnerships covering 510 acres (2.1 km2).

Personal life[edit]

In 1997, he was gored by a buffalo while walking to a launching site for paragliding in the Masai Mara.

In May 1998, he married Sally A. Brewerton. They have two sons but have since divorced.

He has been a keen motorsportsman and was Kenya Novice Motocross champion in 1986 and runner-up in the Kenya enduro championship in 2000. In addition he has held a private pilot's licence PPL since 2000 and has flown in Kenya, Britain, France, Germany, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.


On 19 April 2005, Cholmondeley shot Kenya Wildlife Service game ranger Samson ole Sisina on his ranch in Gilgil division, Nakuru District. He arrived at the slaughterhouse after his ranch employees had summoned his help during what seemed to be a robbery. He is alleged to have shot the KWS employee who was dressed in plain clothes, but insisted it was in self-defense as the ranger had shot at him first without warning. However, a witness account says the victim was shot in the back. The Attorney General Amos Wako discontinued the case by issuing a nolle prosequi. This decision was widely criticised by Kenyan media and public, with many claiming he walked free due to the influence of class and position.[citation needed]

On 10 May 2006, he was taken again into custody for the killing of a stonemason, Robert Njoya Mbugua, who he had discovered on his land with three companions and a pack of dogs. Cholmondeley told police he had shot at the dogs, killing two of them, and that he had not intended to shoot Mr Njoya. He was held at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison after the incident and during the ongoing court proceedings. The trial began 25 September 2006.[7] An interlocutory appeal on a question of procedural law was decided on 13 June 2008. He won an appeal to uphold his right to a fair trial.[8] In March 2009, lay assessors in his trial found him not guilty.[9] On 7 May 2009, Judge Muga Apondi, sitting as a single judge and not bound by the lay assessors' verdict, acquitted Cholmondeley of murder but found him guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.[2]

The verdict was largely based on the evidence by rally driver Carl Tundo, who had accompanied his friend Cholmondeley to the scene. On 14 May 2009 Cholmondeley was sentenced to serve a further eight months in prison. Apondi said he was imposing a "light" sentence given that he had been imprisoned for three years already, and had tried to help Njoya with first aid and transport to hospital.[10] In October 2009 Cholmondeley was released early for good behaviour after serving five months of his eight-month prison sentence.[5]

While murder carries a mandatory death sentence, manslaughter has a statutory maximum of life imprisonment but with no mandatory minimum sentence under Kenyan law.[11]

BBC Four's Storyville series featured the Cholmondeley trial in an episode titled "Last White Man Standing".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Profile: Thomas Cholmondeley". BBC News. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Aristocrat guilty of manslaughter". BBC News. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (14 May 2009). "Kenya: Aristocrat Sentenced for Killing Poacher". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Aristocrat guilty of manslaughter". BBC News. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Convicted Kenya aristocrat freed". BBC News. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  6. ^ Hayden, Joseph. (1851). The Book of Dignities, pp. 527, 565.
  7. ^ "Cholmondeley murder trial kicks off," Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. 27 May 2008.
  8. ^ Pflanz, Mike. "Kenyan murder charge aristocrat Thomas Cholmondeley 'denied fair trial'," The Telegraph (London). 9 October 2008.
  9. ^ McConnell, Tristan. "Lay Assessors find Thomas Cholmondeley Not Guilty of Murder," The Times (London). May 6, 2009.
  10. ^ Elkington, Natasha and Humphrey Malalo. "Kenya aristocrat jailed for 8 months over killing," Reuters. 7 May 2009,
  11. ^ Kadida, Jillo. "Guilty, but spared hangman's noose," Daily Nation (Nairobi). 7 May 2009.
  12. ^


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