Retrial for businessman given life sentence
A 58-year-old businessman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of beheading the mother of his child in 2012 and discarding her body in a septic tank, is to be retried after the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and set aside his sentence.
Trevor 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 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 towards the prosecution.
Following the hearing, which was held last Monday and Thursday, the judges in their ruling last Friday allowed the appeal and ordered a retrial in the interest of justice.
A plea and case management hearing is 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 septic 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 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 Taffe had told Heron’s sister, when she had called enquiring about her sister’s whereabouts, that she had gone to Ocho Rios at a stage show and would return soon.
The court also heard that when Heron’s sister called him afterwards, he told her that her sister would soon “pop up like peas”.
Another piece of evidence presented was that Taffe had indicated that he had reported Heron missing, but checks found that he had only reported two television sets missing from his home. The court also heard that Taffe told police that “Daniel’s God will surely deliver me” upon arrest after Heron’s body was found.
The businessman, however, 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 that his television sets were missing.
Attorney-at-law Oswest Senior-Smith, who represented the appellant, told The Gleaner that the judges did not share their reasons for their ruling. The reasons, however, will be published in the judgment which has not yet been released.
Attorney-at-law Crystal Smalling also represented Taffe.