Cross-examination of N.S. killer's spouse could promote conspiracy theories: lawyer

·1 min read

HALIFAX — The lawyer who represents the spouse of the man responsible for Canada's worst mass shooting says there are good reasons why his client will not face cross-examination when she testifies at a public inquiry on Friday.

James Lockyer says Lisa Banfield should not be retraumatized by lawyers who he says seem determined to explore conspiracy theories about what happened on April 18-19, 2020, when a gunman in Nova Scotia killed 22 people during a 13-hour rampage.

The high-profile Toronto lawyer says some lawyers who represent victims' families seem keen to ask Banfield how she managed to escape from her deranged partner and survive a bitterly cold night in the woods around Portapique, N.S.

Lockyer says the purpose of raising questions about Banfield's whereabouts would be to challenge her credibility and suggest that she may have spent the night elsewhere.

He says that kind of speculation will undermine the inquiry's work by fuelling conspiracy theories.

The three commissioners overseeing the inquiry have decided Banfield will not face cross-examination from lawyers who represent relatives of the victims, mainly because she could be traumatized by having to relive the violence she endured.

The inquiry has heard evidence that Banfield, whose relationship with Gabriel Wortman spanned 19 years, was the victim of a controlling, abusive spouse who repeatedly beat her.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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