Murder conviction of St Andrew businessman set aside, retrial ordered
A retrial has been ordered by the Court of Appeal for 58-year-old businessman Trevor Taffe who was sentenced to life after he was found guilty of beheading the mother of his child in 2012 and discarding her body in a septic tank.
The court has quashed his conviction and set aside his sentence.
Taffe was convicted of murder in July 2016 by a seven-member jury in the Home Circuit Court and ordered to serve 20 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
However, he appealed and sought an order for his sentence to be set aside and his conviction to be quashed on several grounds including that the trial judge had erred when he did not upheld the no-case submission and that the judge's summation was heavily weighted more towards the prosecution.
Following the hearing, which was held on Monday and Thursday of last week, the judges, in their ruling on Friday, allowed the appeal and ordered a retrial in the interest of justice.
A plea and case management hearing was also scheduled for December 8.
The decomposing body of 26-year-old higgler Nicole Heron, who had a chop wound to her face and vagina, and multiple stab wounds to her neck, was found in a tank at her lover's home in May 2012, a month after she was reported missing.
Heron, who at the time had a six-month-old daughter with the businessman, was last seen by her parents on April 3, 2012, heading to Taffe's home in Havendale, St Andrew.
Following the discovery of her body, along with the burnt remains of her clothing, a wig that she was wearing as well as her cell phone and electric charger at Taffe's home, he was arrested and charged with murder.
His conviction, however, was based purely on circumstantial evidence as there was no eyewitness or forensic evidence tying him to the gruesome murder.
Among the evidence presented was that he had told Heron's sister when she had called enquiring about her whereabouts that she had gone to Ocho Rios, St Ann at a stage show and would return soon.
The court also heard that when the sister called him after, he told her that her sister would soon “pop up like peas”.
Another piece of evidence was that Taffe had indicated that he had reported Heron missing, but checks found that he had only reported two televisions missing from his home.
The court also heard that Taffe told police that "Daniel's God will surely deliver me," when the police went for him after Heron's body was found.
The businessman, however, has maintained his innocence, claiming he loved the mother of his child and would never hurt her.
Taffe, in his defence, claimed he left Heron at his home on April 5 in the company of his nephew and a worker.
On his return the following day, he said he did not see any of them but discovered his televisions missing.
Attorney-at-law Oswest Senior-Smith, who represented the appellant, told The Gleaner that the judges in the Court of Appeal did not share their reasons.
The reasons, however, will be published in the judgment, which has not yet been released.
But the attorney noted that the appellate judges, during the hearing, were not interested in all of the grounds of appeal and had asked the prosecution to only respond to the grounds which pertained to the unsworn statement and the summation given to the jury.
Senior Smith said that his argument in relation to the unsworn statement was that the judge's directions were not adequate and further that his summation was too generous and in favour of the prosecution.
Attorney-at-law Crystal Smalling also represented Taffe.
- Tanesha Mundle
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