A 65-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering pregnant teenager Tiffany Taylor.
- Tiffany Taylor’s body has never been found
- Killer Rodney Williams was previously convicted of an elderly woman’s murder in 1978
- The jury heard Ms Taylor’s blood was found in Williams’ car
Rodney Williams had pleaded not guilty to the murder of the 16-year-old, who went missing after meeting him at Waterford West, south of Brisbane, on July 12, 2015.
Ms Taylor’s body has never been found.
Williams will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in jail.
During his sentencing, the Supreme Court in Brisbane heard Williams had previously been convicted of the murder of an elderly woman in Tasmania in 1978. He was sentenced to life in prison for that crime.
The court heard he had punched his elderly neighbour, then stabbed her in the back during a robbery.
Williams was also convicted for the indecent assault of a girl in 1994.
‘You preyed on her’
In sentencing him for Ms Taylor’s murder, Justice Ann Lyons said the teenager was “clearly defenceless”.
“Ms Taylor’s life had value,” Justice Lyons said.
“She was excited about her pregnancy, she was close to her sister, and her diary reveals her plans for the future.
“As her family said, she was underneath it all a naive young girl.
“There can be no doubt you preyed on her.
“Only you will know what transpired that afternoon but the conclusion is she died at your hands.
“You showed her no respect after she died. You simply discarded her and then you continued your life as normal.”
The Supreme Court jury in Brisbane deliberated for about eight hours before finding him guilty.
Killer created ‘false digital trail’
During the trial, crown prosecutor Philip McCarthy QC told the court Williams murdered Ms Taylor after meeting her for a paid “sexual liaison” on the day she went missing.
The jury was shown a chain of message exchanges between the pair, in which Williams said he had $500 to pay.
The court heard that before she went missing Ms Taylor was regularly using a website to meet men for paid sex, and she had threatened several men who refused to pay her.
In his closing address, Mr McCarthy told the court Williams repeatedly lied to police.
He said Williams sent Ms Taylor a message hours after meeting her on July 12, 2015, which read: “Sorry I didn’t turn up. Decided I wasn’t going to pay for it.”
“The first thing he’s done is to create a false digital footprint, a false digital trail denying any physical contact with that girl,” Mr McCarthy told the court.
“A pretence to the world that he’d never met her. A pretence to the world that he thinks she’s still alive.
“It is a false story.
“Indeed, as we learned, his story simply got worse and worse and was full of logical inconsistency in which he was, demonstrably, an unconvincing liar.”
During the trial, the court heard Williams told police he met Ms Taylor but had not had sex with her, instead saying he drove her to Redbank Plains where she got out of the car at traffic lights.
In a later police interview, Williams changed his story, telling officers he dropped the teenager at a truck station on the Warrego Highway where two men were standing, the court heard.
The prosecution alleged Williams tried to flee interstate after being contacted by police to arrange a second interview in August.
“He [Williams] goes down to Roma Street station, he had packed up all his worldly belongings and that wasn’t done in haste,” Mr McCarthy told the court.
Teenager’s blood found in car
The prosecution argued Williams drove Ms Taylor to an industrial estate at Larapinta for about 20 minutes, when he had “plenty of opportunity” to kill her.
The jury heard Ms Taylor’s blood was found in Williams’ car.
Williams told police he noticed Ms Taylor had a nosebleed when she entered his car.
In his closing argument, Williams’ defence lawyer Eoin Mac Giolla Ri said there was evidence Ms Taylor’s older partner, Gregory Hill, was violent.
During the trial, the court heard Ms Taylor moved out of home when she was 12 to live with Mr Hill, who was 38 at the time.
“The ultimate lie is from Greg Hill, ‘I don’t remember where I was on the 12th of July,'” Mr Mac Giolla Ri told the court.
“There’s only one possible reason for telling that lie, and that is because telling the truth about it would show him to be a murderer.”
Crown prosecutor Mr McCarthy said there was evidence that Ms Taylor intended to return to the hotel room she shared with Mr Hill, and that Mr Hill was very upset when she went missing.
“No matter what he did, she loved him. It seems to be the resounding thing here,” Mr McCarthy told the court.
The defence argued the police investigation was inadequate, and that officers had not had an open mind to other suspects.
Mr Mac Giolla Ri argued that what Williams said in his police statement and interview, as well as the supposed false trail, could all be explained if he in fact had sex with Ms Taylor and was concerned she might have been under age.