Charges against spouse of Nova Scotia mass killer were ‘lawful,’ Crown says

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Spouse of N.S. gunman calls for policing reforms at shooting inquiry
The spouse of the gunman who killed 22 Nova Scotians during the April 2020 mass shooting is calling for police to be better trained in handling domestic violence. Her attorney spoke in front of the Mass Casualty Commission Thursday, saying the RCMP failed to identify the gunman as a high risk. Graeme Benjamin has more – Sep 22, 2022

Federal lawyers say it was lawful and reasonable to charge the spouse of the man responsible for the Nova Scotia mass shooting for supplying him with ammunition.

Lawyer Patricia MacPhee made the argument in a written statement of defence before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

She rejects the accusation by Lisa Banfield that the RCMP conspired to stage a malicious prosecution against her.

Banfield alleges she was charged in December 2020 because the RCMP wanted to deflect attention from mistakes police made during the response and investigation into the killings.

Banfield’s husband, Gabriel Wortman, killed 22 people on April 18-19, 2020, using multiple firearms and driving a replica RCMP patrol car.

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MacPhee says Banfield was cautioned during police interviews that statements about providing ammunition to her spouse could be used as evidence.

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“Canada denies that the RCMP instigated a baseless investigation into the plaintiff’s involvement in the mass casualty,” says the court document filed Jan. 31. “It was lawful, reasonable and just for the RCMP to investigate how the perpetrator acquired the firearms, associated equipment and ammunition to carry out the mass casualty.”

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Wife of N.S. mass killer tells story publicly for the first time

Banfield was interviewed several times by RCMP investigators in 2020 — on April 19, 20 and 28, and again on Oct. 23. Her lawyers have said she was never told she could have a lawyer with her.

In the statement of defence, MacPhee says, “there was no duty on the RCMP to inform the plaintiff of her right to counsel.”

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“She had legal counsel since April 20, 2020, and it was her decision whether to have counsel present.”

MacPhee says Banfield went through restorative justice after she was charged, and “ultimately accepted responsibility for the offence, effectively admitting the truth of the allegations against her, which defeats her claim of defamation against the RCMP.”

The RCMP charged Banfield, her brother and brother-in-law with unlawfully transferring the killer ammunition, after they provided him with .223-calibre Remington cartridges and .40-calibre Smith and Wesson cartridges.

Police acknowledged at the time that the three had no knowledge of what the gunman would do, and the Crown withdrew the charges after the trio participated in a restorative justice program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2023.

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