The 68-year-old Kiltegan father, who had lived and worked in Kenya for 41 years, was stabbed to death by intruders at his home on the outskirts of Kericho, 200km outside of the capital, Nairobi, on December 11th, 2009.
On Tuesday a court in Nairobi sentenced the three men to death after they were convicted of robbery with violence.
Two other men were sentenced to 14 years of hard labour in prison after they were found to be in possession of a number of items which were stolen from Fr Roche’s home.
Four other men were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
However, following the verdict Fr Roche’s niece, Anne Cunningham, said that while the family were glad to have justice, they did not wish to see any of the men executed.
“We sincerely hope justice has been done. Gerry stood firmly on the side of justice, but always by peaceful means.
“We are not in favour of the death penalty or punishment by any violent means. It will not bring Gerry back.
“We understand the death penalty has not been enforced in Kenya since 1987, and our wish would be that it not be enforced in this instance either.”
Fr Roche spent 40 years working with the Kiltegan fathers in Kenya and Somalia since his ordination in 1968, and was actively involved in youth development projects in Kericho. He had been planning to retire to a renovated cottage in Athea, Co Limerick, just before he was murdered.
Hundreds of people attended Fr Roche’s funeral Mass at St Bartholomew’s Church, including the aides-de-camp of President Mary McAleese and then-taoiseach Brian Cowen, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy.
Ms Cunningham told the Limerick Leader the convictions had brought “closure” and would allow her family to “continue with the healing process”.
“It has been a difficult time for Fr Gerry’s family and friends. It has been hard to understand why Fr Gerry was murdered, and for some of us harder still to find it in our hearts to â€˜forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
“However we are hopeful that by detaining those found guilty, others may be protected from going through what Fr Gerry went through.”