A lawyer representing the spouse of the man who murdered 22 people in and around Portapique, NS, last year said Monday that her client’s right to a fair trial could be jeopardized if portions of an edited document were unsealed.
Lisa Banfield is among the three people accused of illegally handing ammunition to the shooter in the month before his rampage. However, the police said she and the others had no prior knowledge of the gunman’s actions.
The document in question is a police application for a search warrant to investigate the April 18-19, 2020 murders.
Banfield attorney Jessica Zita told Provincial Court Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie that an edited portion of the document in question contains important details about the Crown’s case against her client, the release of which would undermine her right to a fair trial.
“I do not dispute the principles of openness of courts,” Zita told the court in Port Hawkesbury, NS
“The public has a right to be informed, particularly of an event … that caused a seismic eruption in a small community so large it has trembled nationwide … I beg your honor that you are administering this right with Ms. Banfield’s process of fairness rights. “
Zita went on to say that the release of the Crown’s case “could compromise the integrity of the judicial system”. “The strength of this argument lies in the fact that Ms. Banfield is not just a defendant in this court. She is also a victim. Her situation is different from that of her co-defendants.”
Previously released court documents revealed statements from Banfield that she was attacked by her longtime partner the night the shooting began. She also told the police that he had molested her in the past, although she hadn’t reported any of the incidents.
The case will be heard by the judge alone
Lawyer David Coles, who represents a consortium of media companies, said Banfield’s status as a victim was irrelevant to the present case. He also argued that publishing the controversial information would not prejudice Banfield’s right to a fair trial, as the case would only be heard by a judge, not a jury.
“How can my friends possibly say that there is a serious risk that the judge will say, ‘I don’t have to look at the evidence, I’ll just read what’s on the Globe and Mail or what’s on CBC and I will Let that be my decision, “Coles told the court.
“That’s not how it works.”
22 people died on April 18 and 19, 2020. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison, and Aaron Tuck. (CBC)
Zita also argued that another edited section should not be available to the public as it falls under legal and client law, which indicates that communications between an attorney and his client must remain confidential.
Zita confirmed in court that there was an attorney-client relationship between Banfield and Kevin Von Bargen, a Toronto-based attorney. He made a statement to the police that he was friends with the killer.
On February 19, the Crown published a series of warrant requests known as Document Obtaining Information, or ITOs, which contained previously edited information on Von Bargen. In the documents, Von Bargen said he spoke to Gabriel Wortman after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and said his friend was convinced the global economy would soon implode.
Von Bargen also noted that his friend had withdrawn about $ 475,000 in cash a month before the rampage.
In court, Halfpenny MacQuarrie said she would publish her decision on April 23 in Port Hawkesbury.
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