Spouse of N.S. gunman sues provincial, federal governments over 'malicious prosecution'

Lisa Banfield, the common-law wife of Gabriel Wortman, testified at the Mass Casualty Commission inquiry into the mass murders in rural Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020, in Halifax on Friday, July 15, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan - image credit)
Lisa Banfield, the common-law wife of Gabriel Wortman, testified at the Mass Casualty Commission inquiry into the mass murders in rural Nova Scotia on April 18-19, 2020, in Halifax on Friday, July 15, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan - image credit)

The partner of the gunman who killed 22 people in the Nova Scotia mass shooting is suing the provincial and federal governments after she was accused of providing ammunition to Gabriel Wortman.

In her statement of claim, Lisa Banfield says her reputation and quality of life were damaged, and that she endured pain and suffering, loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, legal fees and cost of care.

The statement of claim filed Oct. 21 doesn't list a dollar amount, but she is seeking damages in an amount to be determined by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

In her statement of claim, Banfield alleges Nova Scotia RCMP were pressured to charge her by federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Nova Scotia Attorney General Mark Furey "as it threatened to expose errors committed by the Nova Scotia RCMP in their response to the events of April 18-19, 2020."

Banfield was charged Dec. 4, 2020, with providing the gunman with ammunition. On July 23, 2022, Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Services announced the charge against Banfield was being withdrawn after she completed restorative justice.

"As a result of this malicious prosecution, [Banfield] has suffered significant losses for which she claims general and special damages," the statement of claim said.

Banfield alleges the Nova Scotia RCMP "was negligent in the course of its investigation," and failed to inform her of her right to counsel throughout her recorded statements of April 19, 2020.

According to the statement of claim, Banfield got a lawyer who spoke to Staff Sgt. Greg Vardy and was "assured" she was being interviewed "solely as a victim."

"Nevertheless, neither Staff Sgt. Vardy, nor any member of the RCMP advised [Banfield] of her right to counsel during her subsequent interviews on April 20, April 28, or June 28, 2020, not before the recorded re-enactment which took place in late October 2020," the statement of claim said.

"As a result of this negligence, [Banfield] was wrongfully charged."

Banfield alleges RCMP and the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service should never have charged her.

"These charges were unlawful, due to documented circumstances of coercive control and life-threatening violence over the entirety of their common-law relationship," the statement of claim said.

Nova Scotia RCMP said they have not yet been served with Banfield's civil claim.

"With this in mind, we will not be responding to allegations in any such claim," the force told CBC News in an email.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns told CBC News on Thursday afternoon that his department had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

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