Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Judges uphold 20-year sentence for man who hired killer

Published:Saturday | May 27, 2023 | 12:13 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

HIS JOB was to hire the alleged trigger man behind Tamara Geddes’ death, and for that, Owen Irving believed that his 20-year sentence was too harsh.

The Court of Appeal, however, disagreed, noting that if he was indicted for murder under the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA), he would have been facing a death penalty or life imprisonment.

The 36-year-old victim was murdered in her home at Reserve, Trelawny, on June 19, 2020, after her sister, Nadeen, plotted her demise.

The appellant, Owen Irving, interestingly, had also collected payment from Nadeen to arrange the killing of her brother’s girlfriend, Tennisha Miller, after she reportedly stabbed him to death during a dispute.

Irving, who is in his late 50s, was sentenced in March 2021 to 20 years in prison for Tamara’s murder, and five years for conspiracy to murder in relation to Miller after pleading guilty.

The court had ruled that Irving must serve 15 years in prison before being considered for parole.

Irving who is among five persons, including Tamara’s sister and her two daughters, who were convicted for the shocking murder, also felt that the five-year conspiracy charge was also excessive.

Following his conviction, Irving appealed his sentences before a single judge in the Court of Appeal and was refused last May.

He later renewed his application before the three-judge panel who, following a hearing in February and March of this year, again refused the application.

Irving had appealed on the ground that his sentence was harsh, manifestly excessive, and cannot be justified.

But the appellate judges, in a recently published judgment, did not accept that the sentences are manifestly excessive.

“The circumstances of the offences are quite disturbing and shocking. In fact, the applicant could have been indicted for murder falling within Section 2(1)(e) of the OAPA (circumstances of a contract killing) and would have been liable to be sentenced pursuant to Section 3(1)(a) of the OAPA, which provides for a potential penalty of death or life imprisonment, with a stipulated statutory minimum term of 20 years’ imprisonment before eligibility for parole.

“This court would only interfere with the sentences if they were excessive or inadequate to such an extent as to satisfy this court that when [they] [were] passed there was a failure to apply the right principles…,” the judgment said further.

The judges noted that Irving, in a caution statement, had admitted to being paid $230,000 by Nadine to facilitate the killing of her sister.

The trigger man had reportedly agreed to carry out the murder for $500,000, and his caution statement alleged that Irving had piloted him to Tamara Geddes’ home on the night of the killing.

In the second incident, Irving and his spouse, Tashana Young, his co-accused, received $ 500,000 from Nadeen to arrange Miller’s murder.

According to the Court of Appeal judges, the sentencing judge may not have demonstrated his application of the sentencing principles in the orderly manner as set out in the case of Meisha Clement v R and Daniel Roulston v R, but his attempt at applying the prescribed methodology was evident.


They noted that the sentencing judge considered Irving’s early guilty plea, aggravating and mitigating factors, and the time spent in pre-sentence remand.

Tamara Geddes was killed when a lone gunman entered her room and robbed her of two cell phones. The alleged killer also reportedly demanded sex and was refused.

The woman’s six-year-old daughter who was present at the time of her murder, escaped unharmed.

During the night of her death, Nadeen reportedly told her daughter that the men were outside in the yard.

It is reported that prior to her death, Tamara Geddes damaged her sister’s water tank and that they had several disputes, which frustrated her sister.

She also pleaded guilty to murder and conspiracy to murder and received similar sentences. Her two daughters, Shanice Ruddock, and the other who was 15 at the time, were both given three-year suspended sentences after pleading misprision of felony. Misprision of felony is a crime that occurs when someone knows a felony has been committed, but fails to inform the authorities about it.

Irving’s spouse also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Meanwhile, the alleged trigger man, Brian Shelly, remains in prison and is yet to plead, as he is yet to settle legal representation. His case is expected to be mentioned next month.

A seventh person, Rexon Knott, a welder of Norwood, St James, was also implicated but was freed after the prosecution offered no evidence against him.