Murder charge dropped against Gilbert Budgell, who police say killed home intruder

Crown attorneys have decided to drop a second-degree murder charge against a man accused of killing a home intruder.

Crown says couldn't prove it wasn't self defence, no reasonable liklihood of conviction

Gilbert Budgell, 55, appeared in court briefly on Thursday morning. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Gilbert Budgell, a Botwood homeowner who police say shot and killed a man who was invading his home, will not face trial for murder charges.

Crown attorneys have decided not to proceed with a second-degree murder charge against Budgell, citing a low likelihood of securing a conviction.

The charges were formally withdrawn Thursday morning in provincial court in Grand Falls-Windsor, where a preliminary inquiry was set to begin.

Crown attorney Karen O'Reilly said self-defence was always a "live issue that we needed to consider" in the case.

"What we've determined is that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction, that we wouldn't be able to prove that it wasn't self-defence," she told reporters after the short hearing.

Two men entered Budgell's home on April 9, 2016 in what police described as a home invasion.

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Police said one of the men was shot and beaten and eventually died of blunt force trauma to the head, according to O'Reilly. The other man ran away. The RCMP said they haven't located him and are still looking for information from the public.

According to O'Reilly, the gun used in the incident was a rifle, which Budgell was legally allowed to own.

Deceased was friend of Budgell

Bob Buckingham, the lawyer representing Budgell in the case, said the man who died was a friend.

"They had known each other for quite some time, and the deceased person had often been to my client's house and had been invited in as a friend," Buckingham said.

Buckingham said Budgell has been "completely upset and distraught" about what happened, and said the defence team had no idea why the home invasion happened.

"Ever since I first met him, he's been saying how sorry he was with respect to this incident," Buckingham said.

"How he did not understand why a person who was a friend had come into his house, and he wished things had turned out much more differently."

'Glad to get on with his life'

Buckingham added his client was "extremely pleased and happy" that the second degree murder charge has been dropped.

"He's been under this yoke for a year-and-a-half now. It's been very stressful and difficult on him, and he's glad to get on with his life."

Despite the dropped charges, Budgell had to return to custody on Thursday morning as he is serving a two year-and-three-month sentence for drug trafficking.

Buckingham said that sentence is unrelated to the murder charge.


Garrett Barry


Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter, working primarily with The St. John's Morning Show.