Nfld. & Labrador

Philip Pynn guilty of manslaughter, Lyndon Butler acquitted on all counts

Family, supporters and police officers crammed a St. John's courtroom at 8 p.m. on Thursday to hear the jury foreperson announce the verdicts for Philip Pynn and Lyndon Butler.
The scene at Supreme Court after the jury rendered its verdicts in the Pynn-Butler trial 0:50

Family, supporters and police officers crammed a St. John's courtroom at 8 p.m. on Thursday to hear the jury foreperson announce the verdicts for Philip Pynn and Lyndon Butler.

Pynn has been found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of Nick Winsor, while Butler was acquitted on all charges.

Pynn was also found guilty of assault, assault with a weapon, possessing a weapon dangerous to the public, but not guilty of robbery and not guilty of attempted murder.

The jury opted for an assault charge rather than a robbery charge for Pynn.

Supreme Court Justice James Adams said Butler was free to go after the jury came back with the verdict Thursday night.

Philip lost his best friend … I don't even think he mourned him yet.- Loretta Pynn

Winsor was killed in the garage on the property owned by Tom "Billy" Power in July 2011.

Extra sheriff's officers and uniformed Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers stood guard inside and outside the courtroom for the decision.

The eight woman and four man jury was sent for deliberations Wednesday evening, after Adams finished his instructions.

Emotions ran high

It was not the sentence that Pynn's family, particularly his mother Loretta Pynn, expected or wanted to hear.

"Philip lost his best friend … I don't even think he mourned him yet. I don't even think he got a chance to mourn his best friend yet," Loretta Pynn told reporters outside Supreme Court.

"That will never leave him — that will always stay with him."

She said that Winsor's mother, Donna Pardy, who was in the courtroom to hear the verdict, was also disappointed with the outcome.

Loretta Pynn sat in the front row of the gallery, closest to the prisoner's dock where her son sat, nearly every day that the trial was in session.

Defence lawyer Mark Gruchy consoles Loretta Pynn, Philip Pynn's mother, after she learned of her son's guilty verdict. (CBC)
She said the past three and a half years have been gruelling on her. 

"No sleep, no eating, it's hard. Really hard. It's your son, it's your youngest of your children that's taken from you," Pynn said. "I haven't touched him in over three years — not [even] his hand, and I just miss him a lot."

Pynn said she feels as though her son has been wronged. 

"I gotta say that I feel it was prejudiced because of his name. He always got the dirty end of the stick."

Outside Supreme Court, Philip Pynn's sister Felicia Pynn was emotional and disappointed that her brother was found guilty of manslaughter.

"I thought there was reasonable doubt there from the day — day one, and I was really hoping he would come home," Felicia Pynn said.

"He's like my twin, he's like my other half, and I really was hoping he would come home."

'He's a survivor'

Pynn's lawyer Mark Gruchy said he needs to speak with his client before making any decision about a possible appeal of the decision.

"One of the realities is that when you're dealing with jury trials, they're very difficult to appeal unless there's some kind of error of charge," Gruchy told reporters, "It's different from appealing a judge alone trial, because we don't have written reasons, obviously."

Nick Winsor, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene after officers responded to reports of a disturbance at a home on Portugal Cove Road in St. John's. (Facebook)
While the verdict of not guilty on the charge of second-degree murder was welcomed, Gruchy said the conviction of manslaughter is not something he necessarily expected.

"Mr. Pynn has had a difficult life, but he is a human being, and though I don't second guess the jury or the jury system, in light of the cautions and the warnings that were given, it's a little hard for me to logically understand."

"Mr. Pynn is OK. Mr. Pynn survives and he's a survivor — I have great respect for him in that regard."

Butler a free man

After years of being under strict bail conditions, including not being allowed in St. John's, Butler walked out of court a free man.

It was the first time Butler had been outside his home past 9 p.m. since his release from custody in 2012 because of curfew restrictions.

Lyndon Butler walks down the Supreme Court steps a free man Thursday night, after a jury found him not guilty on all charges. (CBC)
Jeff Brace said his 24-year-old client chose not to speak with media out of respect for Winsor's mother.

Brace added Butler is planning to attend law school after this experience with the court system.

"Absolutely because of this. I mean, you can only imagine the experience this would take on a person," Brace said.

"He's been three and a half years dealing with the court system and knowing how things can go wrong, and that is actually his plan. He actually has the LSAT book and he's starting to study."

CBC reporter Ariana Kelland tweeted live from the courthouse as the verdict came in.

About the Author

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