BRAMPTON - In her birthplace of Jamaica, Tiffany Kadesha Gayle has been buried. But now, at last, that child can rest.
In 2009, Sherine Taylor allowed Tiffany’s father and stepmother to take her daughter to Brampton where they promised to give her a better life. Just over a year later, the 15-year-old’s bruised and battered body was shipped back to her in a coffin.
Canada was supposed to be Tiffany’s future. Instead, it would be her hell.
On Wednesday afternoon, Crown attorney Brian McGuire called Taylor to give her the news — that after just five hours of deliberation, both Federick Gayle, 45, and his wife Elizabeth, 46, were convicted of first-degree murder in the horrific beating death of her daughter three years ago.
“Right now, I’m thinking about Tiffany Gayle and hopefully she can rest in peace after this,” a subdued Crown attorney Brian McGuire said shortly after the surprisingly swift verdicts.
“And I’m thinking about how we were able to bring her into this courtroom and this jury saw the evidence that she left behind at the scene. She was the only witness we couldn’t call, and yet she was the most powerful witness in this case,” he said. “Obviously it spoke very, very directly and clearly to this jury.”
In notes found by Peel Regional Police in her stepmother’s dresser, Tiffany poured out her heart about wanting to please her dad and stepmom, yet failing at every turn. “Every day I am causing them pain and regrets,” she wrote, yearning for death. “I hate to see my parents angry but I guess there is nothing I can do because all I have ever done is cause pain in the family.”
But they were the monsters, not this innocent young girl.
Each tried to point the finger at the other, but the jury quickly saw through their self-serving lies: this was a team effort, a father swinging a baseball bat and a stepmother lashing out with a red barbecue tool, meting out their brand of vicious punishment on a defenceless child.
Her crimes? She wanted to attend her dance recital. She wanted to invite friends over and have a boyfriend. She wanted to be allowed to talk to her mom in Jamaica.
Tiffany wasn’t allowed to do any of those things. To her father, a strict Seventh Day Adventist, and her stepmom, who had inherited three of his kids and had already managed to send one back, these were the disrespectful actions of a rebellious daughter who deserved a beating, even if it meant she would die.
The trail of her blood told the horrible story: first in the garage where she was hit and backed into a corner, her bloody handprint on a saw against the wall, then marched into the basement so her screams would not be heard. Her blood all down that hall and into the bathroom, spatters of her fat adhering to the walls, as her bones were broken and her flesh torn with every fierce swing of those weapons.
Until she finally came to rest in that bloody bathtub, stripped of her bra and top, doused with water, and left to die from massive internal injuries.
In the tense courtroom, Elizabeth Gayle hardly winced on learning her worst fear was coming true: life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Lawyer Donald McLeod insisted she’s led a tragic life: a disfiguring fire at 6, raped and impregnated when living on the street and abused later by other men.
But that doesn’t explain or justify what she did to Tiffany.
Her husband looked dazed. “Your Honour, this is hard for me. This is my daughter. I have never ever done anything wrong to cause the death of my daughter,” he told the court.
“I was scared that emotion would take over,” his disappointed lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, told reporters. “We still maintain his innocence and I can advise you that we’ll be looking into all avenues of appeal.”
No, the jury got it right. They recognized the evil that stood before them these many weeks of horrific testimony — and now they’ve quickly dispatched them both to the punishment they so richly deserve.
And for a poor girl who dreamed of a better life we could not provide, justice at last.