'Nobody be a f--king hero': Chilling video played at Brandon Phillips trial

Chilling surveillance video showing Larry Wellman's efforts to thwart a masked gunman the night he died at a St. John's hotel was played to a Supreme Court jury Thursday.

Warning: The details in this story may be disturbing to some

Brandon Phillips, 29, was led into courtroom No. 4 without handcuffs or shackles Thursday for the start of his trial. He has been allowed to sit next to his defence counsel, instead of sitting in the witness box. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Chilling surveillance video showing Larry Wellman's efforts to thwart a masked gunman the night he died was played to a Supreme Court jury in St. John's Thursday.

Video from the bar at the Captain's Quarters Hotel was the first piece of evidence the 12-person jury has seen at the Brandon Phillips first-degree murder trial.

Phillips, 29, is accused of killing Wellman during a robbery at the St. John's hotel on Oct. 3, 2015.

One juror winced as audio from the struggle and subsequent shooting echoed throughout courtroom No. 4.

'I love you'

Surveillance video shows a masked man wearing dark clothing walk into the bar. There's a gun in his hand.

Moments later, a man's voice calls out to the bartender, demanding cash, setting off a frantic chain of events that left Wellman bleeding out on the floor of the bar. 

"Put the f--king money in the bag right now," the gunman said. 

That's when Wellman, a 63-year-old man who was having a drink and playing VLTs with his wife, Linda McBay, stepped in.

"Hey! Nobody be a f--king hero," the robber is heard saying.

Desperate to stop her husband, McBay at one point gets between Wellman and the gunman. 

Surveillance video, taken from three different angles, was shown to a jury at Brandon Phillips's first-degree murder trial Thursday afternoon. (RNC)

"Larry, I'm telling you. F--k off!" McBay begs.

But he doesn't stop.

"Hey buddy. This one's f--king loaded," the unidentified man says. "Save your husband. Save his life."

Wellman is seen picking up a small table, then pushing it towards the man. But it's no match for the gun carried by the robber. 

As a blast rings out, Wellman is sent backwards.

McBay screams after her husband, as Wellman repeats 'I love you.'

"Are you happy now?" McBay is heard saying between screams. "Larry. Larry. Oh my God."

Juror's eyes were fixated on the two screens in front of them, as McBay's deafening screams rang through the courtroom. 

Wellman's daughter, who was present in the courtroom, took out a tissue and dabbed her eyes.

Robber still wants money

Despite shooting a man, the video shows the robber was still intent on getting money.

He steps over Wellman and continues his demands to the bartender. "Give me my f--king money," he says before leaving. 

Crown attorney Mark Heerema told the jury a police officer held Wellman in his arms until paramedics came.

He died later in hospital.

During his opening address to the jurors, Heerema pointed out it's not their job to decide whether Wellman's actions were extremely brave or reckless.  

"The video itself cannot necessarily answer who is behind the mask," Heerema said.

DNA evidence

In laying out the Crown's case, Heerema said jurors will be shown DNA evidence that connects Phillips to the crime. 

An officer canvassing the area around the hotel after the shooting found a tuque with two slits for eye holes, Heerema said. 

There was gunshot residue on the outside of the hat and DNA inside, he said.

Larry Wellman, 63, in the foreground, enjoying his favourite spot in the Bay of Islands, John's Beach, with a cousin. (Submitted by Heather McGrath)

The DNA profile matched with Phillips, Heerema told the jury.

Before Phillips was arrested, police watched him exit and enter a home where a sawed-off pump-action Winchester 12 gauge shotgun was later discovered under couch cushions, Heerma said.

The barrel and the stock had been shortened.

"You'll hear a lot about this shotgun," he said.

Heerema also said sneakers with both Wellman's and Phillips's DNA were found in the same house. 

'Enormous responsibility'

In opening statements for the defence, lawyer Mark Gruchy said he will not go through every piece of evidence.

"It is an enormous, enormous responsibility," Gruchy said to the jurors of how critical their roles are in the case.

"I am going to ask you to keep an open mind, to pay attention to the evidence, to not decide anything until the end."

Gruchy repeated to jurors to pay close attention to the attributes of the gun and the evidence given by one of the upcoming witnesses. 

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Prior to trial beginning, ​Justice Valerie Marshall gave instructions to the jury and let them know about their challenging but necessary role.

"You are the only persons to decide the facts," she said. "Punishment has nothing to do with your task."

Linda McBay is expected to take the stand on Friday. 

Want to follow the latest from the trial? Check out our live blog.


Read CBC NL's previous coverage of the trial:

About the Author

Ariana Kelland


Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

With files from Fred Hutton