THE COURT of Appeal has reserved its ruling in the appeal of an Arima man convicted of killing his 14-year-old step-daughter in 2005.
On Wednesday, Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Gregory Smith and Vasheist Kokaram heard submissions from Timothy Pierre’s lead attorney Keith Scotland and outgoing assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Nigel Pilgrim.
In 2016, Pierre was found guilty of killing Stacy Gibbs at their Arima home on June 17, 2005. Gibbs was 14 years old when her mother left for Valencia and Pierre left Gibbs and her younger brother at home while he went to the supermarket. A friend of the children called them out of the house and they jumped the gate and remained to play on the road when Pierre returned.
He was angry and tapped them on their heads and they went back inside. Gibbs was not happy and allegedly told him, he was not her father and it is the defence’s case that he became “triggered.”
At some point in the night, Gibb’s younger brother heard a scream and saw Pierre strangling Stacy who was begging for her life, telling him she could not breathe and was sorry.
Pierre then beat her and she fell on the floor and stopped moving. Pierre put her on a table still holding her neck and she started to “beat up” after which she stopped moving again. Pierre wrapped her in plastic, packed her clothes and carried her out the gate.
Her body was found seven days later tied in a coloured sheet, under a large stone tied with a piece of rope at the bottom of a half-filled cesspit which had been covered with three pieces of galvanised iron sheets.
Pierre took police to where her body was discovered in the shallow grave and told them “is here I throw she body.”
He also said he tried to talk to her about running away and hit her with a piece of wood on her neck.
At the trial, prosecutors said Gibbs told the girl’s mother she had run away and was also part of a search party until he admitted he killed her and led the police to her body.
An autopsy was inconclusive since the body was decomposed but pathologist Dr Easlyn McDonald Burris said while she was unable to determine the cause or manner of death, she could not rule out beating with a piece of wood or strangulation as the cause of death.
A psychiatric examination found that though Pierre might have been of low intelligence, he had no abnormality of mind.
Although he did not testify at his trial, his defence was provocation and claimed his confession was unfairly obtained.
The complaints of his trial included a ground that the trial judge erred in law when he allowed irrelevant and highly prejudicial evidence of bad character evidence which was rebutted by the prosecution. That evidence related to questions to Stacy’s mother, Coreen, to establish she was an alcoholic who beat her children and Pierre whom she also threatened to kill by poisoning his food.
Pierre also complained about the admission of his previous convictions for housebreaking and larceny.
Another ground of appeal was that the trial judge presented a skewed summation in favour of the prosecution while failing to put Pierre’s defence adequately before the jury and misdirected them on the evidence that amounted to provocation when Stacy told Pierre he was not her father.
Pierre’s final complaints were that the judge fell into error by raising irrelevant defences and also failed to address the jury on diminished responsibility which resulted in a miscarriage of justice, severely prejudicing him.
At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, the judges congratulated Pilgrim who announced his impending departure from the DPP’s office to take up a judgeship outside of TT.
Soo Hon said his level of integrity and honesty made him a true minister of justice and a prosecutor who was highly regarded.