Man guilty in death of Halifax woman that sent chill through sex trade community

HALIFAX – A man charged in the death of a Halifax woman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday, just days after leading police to her remains and three years after she disappeared.

Steven Elliot Laffin entered the plea in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in the death of Nadine Anne Taylor, who vanished after she left her apartment to use a pay phone in July 2010.

Her father, Cecil Taylor, said the plea and the discovery of her remains in a wooded area on the eastern outskirts of Halifax last Friday provided the family with some closure.

“It will never go away, but it’s good to know that now she can have a burial anyway and not just be thrown on the ground like dirt,” he said outside court.

“It was good to get that over with.”

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Laffin was given an automatic sentence of life in prison. He is due back in court on April 25 to determine parole eligibility and be sentenced on charges of confinement, aggravated assault and uttering threats in a case involving another woman.

Crown attorney Susan MacKay said outside court that she will ask for parole eligibility of 13 years in the Taylor case, and a sentence of 12 years in the case of the other woman, whose name is protected under a publication ban. The sentences would be served concurrently.

Laffin, stocky and with dark, close-cropped hair, rose to enter the plea when questioned by the judge if he voluntarily waived his right to a trial.

“Yes, your honour,” he said when asked by Judge Felix Cacchione if he caused the death of the 29-year-old prostitute.

Some of Taylor’s friends and relatives were in court for the brief hearing, with some crying after Laffin entered his plea.

One woman who knew Taylor said she was relieved to finally have a guilty plea from Laffin, who had eluded police for years and sent a chill through the sex trade community.

“It is a very heartbreaking day and it has been a very, very long process,” Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone, said outside court.

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“It’s hard to believe it’s been a few years since we received the sketches of Laffin at Stepping Stone to spread the word … that there was a predator out there.”

Ross, whose group provides services to prostitutes, said clients who abuse or kill sex workers are often not caught and rarely prosecuted. She said 19 sex workers have disappeared or been murdered in the Halifax area since 1985.

Laffin came to police attention in Taylor’s death after he was charged with crimes against another sex worker in 2010. He pleaded guilty to charges of assault and confinement in the case of a woman who jumped out of a moving car in Halifax.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the case was taking place in Halifax provincial court.

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