'I should have warned Const. Smyth,' says Don Dunphy's brother at inquiry into shooting death

Don Dunphy's brother, Richard, says he should have warned Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Joe Smyth that his brother had a temper.

Richard Dunphy says he should have told the RNC officer how angry his brother could be

Richard Dunphy testified on Jan. 11 during Day 3 of the inquiry into the shooting death of his brother, Don Dunphy. (CBC)

Don Dunphy's brother, Richard, says he should have warned Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Joe Smyth that his brother had a temper.

Richard Dunphy testified Wednesday at a judicial inquiry into the shooting death of his brother. He talked about how his family's relationship with Don Dunphy deteriorated after their father's death.

He said he was upset when his brother inherited a piece of land from their father and the dispute got to the point that a court ordered a peace bond against Don Dunphy, preventing him from having contact with Richard's wife, Debbie.

Don Dunphy was shot to death in his Mitchells Brook home in April 2015 by Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Joe Smyth, who at the time was assigned to the security detail of then-premier Paul Davis.

The RCMP investigated the shooting and determined no charges were warranted against Smyth.

The inquiry into Don Dunphy's death began hearing witnesses Jan. 9. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Smyth visited Richard and Debbie Dunphy at their own home. Richard said his wife told him Smyth showed his police badge when she opened the door.

Richard Dunphy said he told Smyth he didn't know if his brother had a firearm.

He said that after Don Dunphy was shot, he regretted not warning Smyth that his brother could become angry.

"Were you ever afraid of your brother Don Dunphy?" commission counsel Kate O'Brien asked Richard Dunphy. "I wasn't, no," he replied.

Was he ever violent?, she asked.

"No, he was quick tempered." 

Heated cross-examination

Richard Dunphy told the inquiry on Wednesday that he didn't hear Const. Smyth tell his wife Debbie that he was investigating "a threat against the government."

But Bob Simmonds, a lawyer for Don Dunphy's daughter, Meghan Dunphy, said during a sometimes tense cross-examination that is not what Dunphy told police the day his brother was shot.

"He was just saying that he, he wanted to have a talk to him where, where he — those threat letters for the, to the government." Richard Dunphy told RCMP Cpl. Monty Henstridge in April, according to a police report.

Bob Simmonds is one of two lawyers representing Meghan Dunphy at the inquiry into her father's shooting death. (CBC)

After some pressing by Simmonds, Dunphy agreed he did say that.

Debbie Dunphy was also expected to testify Wednesday. She submitted a doctor's note saying she was unable to attend.

Judge Leo Barry said if Debbie Dunphy doesn't convince the Inquiry she has a valid reason to not appear she could be sanctioned.

​Shared concerns about Workers Compensation

Don Dunphy's friend Colin Dinn also testified Wednesday. He was injured on a job working outside the province and takes medication.
Colin Dinn knew Don Dunphy for more than two decades. (CBC)

Dinn said his friend was a "proud man, tormented that he couldn't provide," and wouldn't accept an offer of free firewood.

"We talked about workers comp[ensation] because we were both in similar situations but I never saw him violent or threatening," he said.

I never heard or seen tell of a gun in all the time I was there.- Colin Dinn, Don Dunphy's friend

Commission lawyer Kate O'Brien asked Dinn if Dunphy ever worried about his security?

"Yes. After sending tweets or letters, he said he said 'It wouldn't be a surprise if they comes for me,'" he responded.

"Did you know if he had guns?", asked O'Brien.

"I know he had a stick for protection on the right side of his chair," said Dinn. "I never heard or seen tell of a gun in all the time I was there."

Dinn denied an allegation that he had traded his painkillers, OxyContin, for Dunphy's homegrown marijuana, which Dunphy was allowed to grow to treat pain from a workplace injury decades earlier.

Lawyer Jerome Kennedy, who is representing Smyth, asked whether the stick Dunphy carried for protection was related to the marijuana or the letters Dunphy wrote.

"For whatever reason. Someone might come after him, break into his house," said Dinn.

Dunphy son-in-law testifies

Billy Corcoran, Meghan Dunphy's common law husband, told the inquiry that his father-in-law was opinionated but he never saw him angry or violent.
Billy Corcoran lives with Meghan Dunphy. The pair had a meal with Don Dunphy on the day he was shot. (CBC)

Corcoran said the trio had an Easter meal hours before Don Dunphy was shot, and that Dunphy went home afterwards.

Shortly after, Meghan Dunphy learned there had been a shooting at her father's house and they followed a police car there.

Corcoran said Meghan asked RCMP officer Trevor O'Keefe if her father had been shot, and O'Keefe responded that Don Dunphy was lying on the floor with a rifle.

Corcoran said his wife asked to see her father, and while O'Keefe said she would, that never happened.  

Witness X rescheduled

Witness X was expected to testify on Day 3 of the inquiry, but is being rescheduled to later in the hearings that are expected to run into March.

The commission of inquiry says the unidentified witness will be testifying by phone.

Audio of the testimony will be streamed online, but inquiry staff say the name of the witnesses will not be released.

Justice Leo Barry is heading the inquiry, which is being held at the School for the Deaf in St. John's.

The Inquiry is adjourned until Monday at 9:30 a.m. when Const. Smyth is expected to take the stand for three days.

You can follow testimony in our live blog.

About the Author

Mark Quinn

CBC News

Mark Quinn is a videojournalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.