The owner of a boarding house in the Kilbride neighbourhood of St. John's is expressing his condolences and regret after a violent incident between two residents left one man dead and another charged with second-degree murder.
Ray Hennessey, owner of Hennessey's Guest Home, said he urged 39-year-old Dwayne Ginn to seek help in early June, about two weeks before he's alleged to have killed another resident of the home.
Hennessey said he had grown more concerned about Ginn's mental state throughout the course of his stay, which lasted about three months. Residents told Hennessey that Ginn would often scream out during the night and wake the others.
"I kind of blame myself," said Hennessey, noting he wishes he had told him to leave the home until he'd gotten psychiatric care. "Then this wouldn't have happened."
Problems came to a head around 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, when police were called to help a man with serious injuries outside the boarding house. The victim, 41-year-old Mark Hamlyn, died soon after being taken to hospital.
Hamlyn had been living at the boarding house for about three years. Hennessey said he was a good tenant, who helped out around the property and was an expert with auto body work.
"He was a great fella," he said. "If you had a problem with your car he'd help you out. He'd give you a list to go get and then he'd do it for you. It's a sin, b'y, it's a sin."
Case set over in court
Police arrested Ginn at a bar on George Street on Wednesday evening. He phoned into a five-minute court appearance from the city lockup on Thursday morning, where his case was set over until his legal aid application is sorted out.
The court heard Ginn will likely be represented by veteran lawyer Jason Edwards, with Legal Aid NL's special defence unit.
Judge Lois Skanes read the charge out loud, and asked Ginn if he understood, to which he uttered a quiet "yes." Crown prosecutor Nicole Hurley is asking the court for a no-contact order, which would prevent Ginn from speaking with about a dozen people — including several residents of the home, and Hennessy.
Ginn will remain in custody, and his case will be called again on June 30 for an update.
Police, meanwhile, say the investigation is still in the early stages, and they're urging anyone to come forward with information related to the killing, including any video collected in the area from 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14.
Residents shaken up
The property has seen many residents over the decades — operating first as a care home for seniors for more than 30 years. In the past 12 years, it's been used as a boarding house for men.
Hennessey said they house between 10 and 12 men per night during busier times, many of whom are "down on their luck and in need of a hand."
These types of accommodations are a stop-gap for people experiencing homelessness around St. John's. While they keep people off the streets, critics have long urged the provincial government to provide more oversight and tailor services to people reliant on boarding houses and private shelters to get them into stable, long-term housing instead.
This is at least the third homicide at a boarding house or private shelter in three years, after a 23-year-old man was killed outside a shelter on Bond Street in 2019, and a 42-year-old woman was killed at a boarding house on Cookstown Road in 2021.
Hennessy said this was the first serious problem they've had at his house. He said the residents are shaken up, and he's committed to seeking out whatever services they can avail of from Eastern Health.
He hopes they can get back to peaceful times, like they had before the incident took place.
"They were all out to a campfire the night before, having s'mores and hot dogs and hamburgers, listening to music and having a laugh, just like anybody else would do on a nice night." Hennessy said. "Then the next night, that."