Nfld. & Labrador

Tearful Dwight Ball opens up about daughter, murder case and being a dad

Dwight Ball says he never thought about bowing out of the race for premier, even as he faced harassment by an alleged drug dealer and came to the realization that he had information to assist a murder investigation.

N.L. premier speaks on heels of CBC News report into the Brandon Phillips murder trial

Year-end Dwight Ball interview

4 years ago
Duration 10:34
Premier Dwight Ball opens up about daughter, Brandon Phillips murder trial.

Dwight Ball never thought about bowing out of the race for premier, even as he was dogged by an alleged drug dealer and provided key information in a murder investigation. 

His daughter, Jade Ball, encouraged him not to, even as she struggled with her own drug addiction.

"That's the very last thing she ever wanted me to do is quit because of the issues she's dealing with," Ball said, his voice cracking as his eyes grew red.

I'm a parent, who just happens to be the premier.— Dwight Ball

"Even this morning, [she sent] text messages saying, 'Dad, you're doing a good job. I'm proud of you, continue to do what you're doing.'"

In an interview with CBC News on Wednesday, Ball opened up about his connection to the Brandon Phillips murder trial, and the effect it has had on his life.

Phillips, 29, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Larry Wellman, 63, earlier this month. He was killed while trying to stop Phillips from robbing the Captain's Quarters Hotel in St. John's, on Oct. 3, 2015. 

Phillips was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Jade at the time. The two were under police surveillance in the days after the killing.

Details of Dwight Ball's connection to the case were outlined in hundreds of pages of police documents obtained by CBC News.

Ball went to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary five days after the shooting with information that was critical to the case.

Ball suspected Phillips wore his, Ball's, black North Face jacket when he committed the crime.

His statement provided police with enough evidence to get a search warrant for Phillips's family home on Quidi Vidi Road, where the murder weapon was later found.

"When I saw the [photo] that various media outlets had posted [of the suspect], I started putting a bunch of things together," Ball said.

Brandon Phillips and Jade Ball, pictured here in this Facebook photo dated 2013, had been in a relationship for several years prior to Phillips's arrest. (Facebook)

"There were a number of things that were happening to me personally, and knowing the location, knowing the issues around substance abuse, and seeing this black jacket," all led him to go to police, he said.

"I just felt it was my duty as a resident of the province," Ball said.

"I did it for personal reasons. I did it because a tragic event occurred with Mr. Wellman and his family."

No special treatment 

Ball stressed neither he nor his daughter received special treatment from the RNC, and that she is "really the innocent person in all [of] this."

At one point during the six-week trial, there was a possibility that he would be called as a defence witness.

But Phillips's lawyers decided to call no evidence.

"I can guarantee the people of this province, there were no guarantees, there was no special treatment for me or my daughter or my family in all of this," Ball said.

Jarrett Cody, seen here at Supreme Court on Dec. 1, is accused of possessing oxycodone and hydromorphone. The charges were laid in 2015. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

He said he has always been "transparent" and "straight forward."

The previously secret documents — ITOs, or information to obtain a search warrant — spell out details of turmoil in Ball's life in the months leading up to the death of Wellman.

Ball was being harassed online by an alleged drug dealer, and had the tires on his vehicle slashed.

Tens of thousands of dollars were charged to his credit card, including a car worth upwards of $12,000.

Police documents indicate the vehicle was bought by Phillips and Jarrett Cody.

Cody was a tenant in a home co-owned by Jade and Dwight Ball. He's heading to trial in the new year on charges of possessing oxycodone and hydromorphone. 

Dwight Ball, seen here after winning the Nov. 30, 2015 election, says his personal troubles at the time didn't cloud his political judgement. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

When asked by police, Cody said he was owed money and had been paid off with prepaid credit cards, which were purchased using Ball's credit card.

The debt was reportedly related to Phillips.

As for not going to police sooner with the charges to his credit card and harassment, Ball said he did what he thought was right. 

"I did what I had to do, and I'm sure the timing of it could have been different, looking back," Ball said.

"I know when I felt I should go, [that] was the right thing to do and that's the reason I went forward on Oct. 8."

'I always take the time'

That fall, Ball was gearing up for the biggest political move of his life. But, despite his personal troubles, he insists he never doubted his political judgment.

"It never clouded my judgment. I always take the time," he said.

"I usually make the decisions I have to make based on the evidence that's presented."

He said his experience with mental health and addiction has made him a good person to help others in the province. 

As tears filled his eyes, Ball had one final sentiment. 

"I'm a parent, who just happens to be the premier of the province," he said.

Watch the original report that aired on Here & Now here:

With files from Rob Antle, Fred Hutton and Jen White