Nova Scotia gunman’s common-law partner pleads not guilty to illegally supplying him with ammunition

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A burnt down property recorded in the gunman’s name during the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, Portapique, Nova Scotia on May 8, 2020.

Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press

The common-law partner of the man responsible for the April 2020 murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia pleads not guilty to charges of illegally supplying her with ammunition.

Lisa Banfield, 52, faces two counts of illegally supplying ammunition to the shooter in the month before the massacres. Defense lawyer Jessica Zita pleaded not guilty on Banfield’s behalf by telephone Wednesday before a provincial court judge in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

During the hearing, Judge Theodore Tax set dates in late March and early April 2022 for a five-day trial, reserved for judges, and dates this summer for pre-trial conferences.

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Crown Attorney Shauna MacDonald said she expected part of those trial dates to be devoted to hearings to determine the admissibility of evidence and witnesses.

The initial plea hearing was adjourned in March after it was determined that the defense’s request for a private meeting with the judge and the Crown prior to a plea was not appropriate.

RCMP said Banfield and two other accused “had no prior knowledge of the shooter’s actions.”

The matter is dealt with summarily, indicating that it is considered a less serious matter than an indictable offense. The process means that a single judge presides over the case, potential fines are less than $ 5,000, and potential prison sentences are no more than two years less a day.

Banfield’s brother, James Blair Banfield, 54, of Beaver Bank, NS, and his brother-in-law, Brian Brewster, 61, of Lucasville, NS, have also been charged with illegally supplied the shooter, Gabriel Wortman, with a .223- Remington caliber cartridges and Smith & Wesson .40 caliber cartridges before the shootings that began in Portapique, NS.

Brewster pleaded not guilty on April 13 and his trial is scheduled for January 11, 2022. James Banfield’s case is scheduled for trial on January 24, 2022.

Police released witness statements – taken to obtain a search warrant – from Lisa Banfield, in which they said the killer assaulted her at their seasonal home on the night of April 18, 2020, in the village of Portapique before the start of its rampage.

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Police confirmed that the killer, who disguised himself as a gendarme and was driving a replica of the RCMP vehicle, was armed with two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles when he set fire to property and killed 13 people in the village.

He killed nine more people the next day in several other communities in northern and central Nova Scotia before being shot by two RCMP officers at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia, about 35 kilometers away. north of Halifax.

The victims included an RCMP officer, two nurses, two correctional officers, a family of three, a teacher and some of his neighbors in Portapique.

Investigators said they determined the ammunition was bought and trafficked in Nova Scotia.

The provincial and federal governments have established a joint public inquiry to investigate the murders and make recommendations aimed at preventing a similar tragedy.

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