Uganda court orders US couple to pay tortured foster son $26,000

Tuesday October 31 2023

Mackenzie Leing Mathias Spencer (L) and her husband Nicholas Spencer standing in the dock at Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court in Kampala, Uganda on February 21, 2023. PHOTO | JULIET KIGONGO | DAILY MONITOR


The High Court in Kampala, Uganda has sentenced an American couple to a fine after being found guilty of torturing their 10-year-old foster son in Uganda.

Nicholas Scott Spencer was convicted of child neglect, unlawful stay in Uganda, employment without a work permit before he was sentenced to a fine of Ush1,500,000 ($396.20).

His wife Mackenzie Leing Mathias was sentenced to a fine of Ush3,360,000 ($887.48) after she was convicted on charges of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, unlawful stay in Uganda and employment without a work permit. She was asked to pay the money or be jailed for three years.  

The couple was also ordered to pay the victim Ush100 million ($26,413) as compensation.

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Justice Alice Komuhangi of the International Crimes Division of the High Court on Tuesday said that each of the convicts would be required to pay Ush50 million ($13,206) to their victim.


This was after they pleaded guilty to the charges under the plea bargain arrangement.

The money shall be deposited on the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (ODPP) Asset Recovery Management Fund account in Bank of Uganda (BoU).

In the plea-bargain agreement, the DPP dropped the initial charges of aggravated trafficking in children and torture before amending the charge sheet to relatively lighter offences.

Prosecution led by Ms Lilian Omara had stated that Mackenzie between September 21, 2022 to December 2011 and Spencer, between November 30, 2022 to December 2022, unlawfully stayed in Uganda.

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It is further alleged that around the same time, the two worked in Uganda without a permit or special pass contrary to Section 59(2)(a) of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act CAP 66.

Court documents indicate that the victim was a pupil at Dawn Children’s Center- Special Children’s Trust WHO was living with the couple in Nagura Hill as his foster parents.