Nfld. & Labrador

Steven Neville found guilty of second-degree murder

A Supreme Court jury has found Steven Neville guilty of second-degree murder, and guilty of attempted murder.

Guilty verdict also returned on count of attempted murder

Steven Neville, seen in court earlier this week, has been found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder. (CBC )

Steven Neville has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Doug Flynn, and guilty of the attempted murder of another man.

Neville had been charged with first-degree murder in the October 2010 stabbing death of Flynn on a street in a Paradise suburb. A St. John's jury returned a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Members of Flynn's family wept when they heard the verdict, which means an automatic sentence for Neville of 10 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador jury, which began its deliberations on Wednesday, returned the verdicts to a packed courtroom in downtown St. John's Friday afternoon.

The jury found Neville guilty of the attempted murder of Ryan Dwyer.

The defence, which had claimed Neville had acted in self defence, had cast Dwyer and Flynn as predators who had hunted Neville. There was evidence that Flynn and Dwyer had been hounding Neville for weeks leading up to the clash on Oct. 9, 2010, and that he tried to avoid them. But that night, Neville was in a car, spotted them, and jumped out.

Crown prosecutor Robin Fowler said that was probably a key element in the guilty verdict. During summations, he told the jury that if Neville had stayed in the vehicle, then nothing would have happened.

The Crown described Neville as being angry over remarks Dwyer had made about his mother on Facebook.

"They are dead, dead, dead, I'm stabbing them until they are squirting blood," Neville texted hours before the fatal early-morning encounter that left Flynn mortally wounded. He later died in hospital.

Neville's mother sat with her head down after the verdict was read.  

There have not been any comments from the families involved.

Emotions were high during the proceedings, with one member of the jury also crying, as did one of Neville's lawyers, Rosellen Sullivan. Security was also reported to be tight, although no incidents were reported.

Because of the conviction on a second-degree murder charge, the jury was entitled to offer its opinion on whether Neville should wait for more than 10 years before he can apply for parole.

The jury, though, did not offer a recommendation to Justice Carl Thompson.

Gangsta rap culture cited during trial

The jury learned much about drugs, crime and the seedy underbelly of the St. John's area, with much of the evidence gleaned from text messages and social media posts that the principals had all made.

The court was told that Neville, Dwyer and others were low-level players in the cocaine trade. Nonetheless, they adopted the tough language of gangsta rap lyrics, and even emulated the violent imagery of songs they admired.

The defence had argued that Dwyer, who has admitted to dealing hard drugs in the past, had wanted to get back into the business and saw Neville as a threat.

One of Neville's lawyers, Peter Ralph, said they believed they had made a case for acquittals. He said there will likely be an appeal, but that's up to Neville. The next step is a sentencing hearing.