Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Killer Causwell loses appeal

Published:Friday | November 20, 2020 | 12:14 AM

Stephen Causwell, the businessman who killed his girlfriend inside her Oakland Apartments complex over a decade ago, has lost his bid to have his murder conviction overturned.

In a decision handed down yesterday, the Court of Appeal refused an application by Causwell’s attorneys for leave to challenge his conviction.

The well-known businessman was found guilty in September 2016 of killing Nadia Mitchell, his girlfriend of eight years, at her home inside the gated Oakland Apartments complex in St Andrew in July 2008.

The father of two was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to serve 20 years before he is eligible for parole, a sentence that was affirmed by the Court of Appeal.

At the time of her death, Mitchell was in another relationship, after ending her romance with Causwell, according to evidence presented during his trial.

Jodian Brown, one of Mitchell’s friends who left the apartment minutes before her death, testified that she heard Causwell asked his former spouse if she was having sex with her new beau.

Prosecutors Paula Llewellyn and Yanique Gardener Brown painted the businessman as a scorned, obsessive, and controlling lover, describing his relationship with Mitchell as a case of “fatal attraction”.

However, in seeking leave to appeal the conviction, his attorneys asked Jamaica’s second-highest court to find that Justice Carol Lawrence Beswick, who presided over the trial, made a number of errors.

Among them were that Lawrence Beswick failed to uphold the no-case submission made on Causwell’s behalf during the trial and that she failed to withdraw the case from the jury and direct that the businessman be acquitted.

His attorneys argued, too, that the judge failed to give adequate directions on circumstantial evidence and that the conviction was unreasonable, given the evidence.

However, the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the application, found that the prosecutors presented sufficient evidence for the judge to have rejected the no-case submission and to refuse to withdraw the case from the jury.

“The learned trial judge also identified the issues that arose and fairly rehearsed the evidence that was presented in a manner that was appropriate for a case as this, which involved reliance on circumstantial evidence,” the court ruled.

It acknowledged that the trial, which occurred eight years after the killing, constituted a breach of Section 16(1) of the Constitution, but said “this does not provide a basis to quash the conviction in this case”.

“Ultimately, there is no basis on which this conviction ought to be disturbed.”