Accusations mounting against Nick Westera, police suspected relationships other than Pynn
Former boss of disgraced Crown attorney says Bob Buckingham does not know the facts
Former Crown prosecutor Nick Westera was believed to have inappropriate ties with women other than Felicia Pynn, a high ranking police officer testified in court.
Under questioning by lawyer Bob Buckingham last week, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Insp. Tom Warren was asked if Westera was involved with other women who had contact with the court system.
"I can't recall if there were relationships with persons inside the court system directly, but we learned that Mr. Westera had relations with other persons besides Ms. Pynn."
Buckingham believes those women had ties to Westera's work.
"They were young, vulnerable and facing prosecution in the criminal justice system," Buckingham tweeted on Monday.
Westera has never been charged with a criminal offence related to his alleged relationship with Felicia Pynn, which consisted of gifts and hundreds of text messages.
The bombshell news came out in the trial of Jonathan Rowe — the man acquitted of aiding Felicia Pynn's brother, Philip Pynn, after he shot and killed his best friend in 2011.
Relationship caused massive cost to taxpayers
It was revealed during the trial that the RNC questioned Westera about his relationship with Felicia Pynn.
While she was never charged with a crime related to her brother's manslaughter conviction, she was listed as a person of interest in the case.
Police say Westera and Pynn exchanged around 600 text messages after the shooting death of Nick Winsor, for which Philip Pynn was convicted of manslaughter.
Buckingham described the correspondence as "sexting," while Westera told the police it was "flirtation and fantasy."
Westera bought Pynn gifts, such as a red coffee percolator — her favourite colour. When it broke, he came to pick it up and bought her a new one.
When he was questioned, police didn't buy his description of the relationship, Warren said.
"I was suspicious," he told the court. "I felt it was more than what Mr. Westera led us to believe."
For the first time, this relationship was revealed as the reason why lawyers from outside Newfoundland and Labrador were brought in to prosecute Philip Pynn.
A CBC investigation in 2015 revealed the cost to taxpayers was $700,000 — a figure that does not include the cost of Jonathan Rowe's trial, which used the same outside prosecutors.
In 2014, Westera was suspended from the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.
He later worked in private practice as a criminal defence lawyer after his departure as a Crown attorney.
According to his LinkedIn page, he is retired from law and studying for a master's degree in theological studies at Tyndale University, a protestant evangelical school based in Toronto.
Justice minister sees no issue
Buckingham does not believe the police or Department of Justice and Public Safety went far enough to investigate Westera. In court, he questioned Warren on how close he was to the beleaguered lawyer.
Westera referred to Warren as "Tommy" during interviews with police.
Warren, who was a sergeant during the time of the investigation, said he knew Westera professionally for more than 20 years but insisted he was not friends with him.
On Monday, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons spoke with CBC News about the situation.
"I don't see this as an issue," he said. "Nobody likes to see that amount of money spent. But that is the cost of insuring these matters proceed."
Since he was not involved with government at the time, Parsons said he doesn't know how Westera came to be removed from his job and could not comment on whether the investigation and punishment was enough.
Attempts to contact former Justice Minister Felix Collins were unsuccessful.
Donovan Molloy, director of public prosecutions at the time of Westera's relationship with Pynn, declined an interview on Monday.
He did, however, have words for Bob Buckingham.
"Mr. Buckingham is not acquainted with the facts," Molloy wrote.
"Appropriate measures were taken and there are significant privacy limits on the ability of any public body to discuss workplace investigations."
With files from Glenn Payette and Peter Cowan