The lawyers for the families of the victims cannot ask Lisa Banfield questions. They believe that this casts doubt on his testimony.
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Lisa Banfield testifies at the Mass Casualty Commission on July 15, 2022 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Lisa Banfield, common-law spouse of the perpetrator of the mass shooting in April 2020 in Nova Scotia, told her story publicly for the very first time on Friday morning.
She was testifying to the Mass Losses Commission, a commission of inquiry that has been examining for several months the circumstances of the massacre in which 22 people were killed on April 18 and 19, 2020, in Portapique and surrounding communities.
On Friday, the commissioners heard that Lisa Banfield had been beaten and seriously injured by her husband Gabriel Wortman before he carried out a killing spree on the evening of April 18.
Ms. Banfield told commission investigators that she fled into a wooded area, only to later emerge to notify emergency services that her spouse was still at large on morning of April 19.
At the time, the suspect was disguised as a police officer and driving a vehicle disguised as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) patrol car.
Lisa Banfield testifies at the Mass Casualty Commission, July 15, 2022 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Commission counsel Gillian Hnatiw posed a series questions to Lisa Banfield about the first moments of her meeting with Gabriel Wortman. The relationship, which Ms Banfield said was abusive, began in 2001, when they met in a Halifax bar.
Lisa Banfield shared that he showed up on their first date with two dozen roses. I thought that was overkill, she mentioned in a flat tone.
She then recounted how, that same evening, she had was impressed by her reaction when her car was hit by a young female driver. Lisa Banfield mentioned that Wortman was polite and collected despite the bad luck. I thought to myself, he's a good guy, she recalled.
Only lawyers from the Mass Casualty Commission, which is leading the public inquiry into the tragedy, are allowed to ask Lisa Banfield questions.
Mass Loss Commission attorney Gillian Hnatiw questioned Lisa Banfield.
The commission investigating the shooting agreed to let Ms. Banfield testify without being cross-examined by lawyers representing other parties, primarily because she might be traumatized.
In a statement, the commission justified its decision by citing the amount of information that Ms. Banfield has already provided to them, as well as her situation as a survivor of the perpetrator's violence.
Lisa Banfield has already conducted four interviews with the police, visited the scene of the first murders in Portapique, Nova Scotia, and had five interviews with members of the Board of Inquiry.View larger
Nick Beaton during a break from committee work on Friday. His partner, Kristen Beaton, was pregnant when she was killed on April 19, 2020. He believes she would never have approached the killer if the RCMP had informed the public that the perpetrator of the massacre was disguised as a police officer.< /p>
Lawyer Michael Scott, whose firm, Patterson Law, represents the families of 14 of the 22 victims, said he was shocked by the decision.
In his opinion, there is absolutely no point in asking Lisa Banfield to testify under oath, in person, under the conditions established by the commission.
“Ms. Banfield was called for no other reason than to be able to say she was called.
— Michael Scott, attorney
Michael Scott recalls that his clients were already upset that the commission often blocked live cross-examinations.
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Michael Scott, a lawyer for the firm which represents several relatives of the victims, questioned police officers at the commission of inquiry on May 5.
According to Michael Scott, the investigation would have been more respectful of the trauma suffered by the witnesses if she had called Lisa Banfield to appear once in person, rather than having several lengthy closed-door interviews with her.
If this process had been done the right way and questions from various lawyers had been allowed, he believes Lisa Banfield could have spoken up and clarified some things.
Nick Beaton lost his wife Kristen in the tragedy. He is attending the hearings of the Public Inquiry Commission into the killings.
Mr. Scott believes that the decision to limit questioning in this investigation will cast doubt on the veracity of Lisa Banfield's testimony.
What he deems a lack of transparency risks further encouraging speculation about what really happened, lawyer claims families.
James Lockyer, attorney for Lisa Banfield, disagrees with Michael Scott.
James Lockyer, attorney for Lisa Banfield, attends Mass Loss Commission hearings, July 14, 2022 in Halifax, the day before of his client's testimony.
He said he was satisfied that the commission did not allow questions from lawyers representing the families of the victims.
He claims their questions might be prompted by a conspiracy theory, that his client didn't actually spend the night out in the woods.
Next thing we'll hear, it's that the shooting never happened, it's completely untrue and it's all made up, Lisa Banfield's lawyer said. We don't need that kind of nonsense in Canada or Nova Scotia.
She is very worried, intimidated and scared, James Lockyer said of Lisa Banfield, before the latter's testimony.
She knows that she will relive traumas from the past, but she chose to appear in person. She could have testified by video link, but she chose not to, the lawyer said. She's showing a lot of courage in my opinion, and she's going to do her best.
With information from The Canadian Press andHaley Ryan, from CBC