Nfld. & Labrador

What can be learned from a grainy video in the Pynn-Butler trial

Reporter Ariana Kelland describes the key elements in one of the most critical pieces of evidence entered in the second-degree murder trial of Philip Pynn and Lyndon Butler.
A montage of the surveillance footage entered as evidence in the trial for Lyndon Butler and Philip Pynn 31:44

On July 9, 2011, four surveillance cameras mounted outside 271 Portugal Cove Rd. picked up the moments immediately before and after Nick Winsor, 20, was shot to death.

The videotape has been played for a Supreme Court jury, and could play a pivotal role in determining whether two St. John's men — Philip Pynn and Lyndon Butler — go to prison.

The video is critical for several reasons, and is important to both the Crown and the defence. It records the sounds of Nick Winsor's death, which occurred off-camera, but it is not crystal-clear. The defence argues that the grainy video does not even prove that Pynn and Butler were there that night.

The video was recorded at the home of Tom "Billy" Power and Barbara Reddigan. The Crown alleges that Pynn and Butler were accompanying Winsor to rob Power of jewelry.

Meanwhile, the defence maintains the video holds clues about the conduct of the homeowners.

Let's take a close look at the surveillance video, which you can watch above.

At the scene

Three men can be seen exiting a car in Billy Power's driveway. Weather conditions make it impossible to make out any faces. (CBC)

The first sequence was taken from a camera mounted on the property's garage, pointing towards Portugal Cove Road.

During opening remarks, the Crown told the court the three men who exit that car in Power's driveway are Butler, Pynn and Winsor. However, it's impossible to pick out any faces in the footage because of heavy rain and strong winds that night.

The lawyer for Lyndon Butler, Jeff Brace, told the court there is not one shred of evidence that places his client at the scene.

I was just hysterical because I thought it was Billy dead on the garage floor.- Barbara Reddigan

In the video, one man is seen leaving the car and taking a drag from a cigarette, later throwing it on the driveway before heading toward the back of Power's house.

Two cigarette butts were later photographed by police and taken into evidence.

DNA found on one of the cigarettes found at the scene matches the DNA of Philip Pynn.

After a few minutes with no movement on the screen, the microphone on the camera picks up the haunting and unmistakable sound of a single gunshot, followed by men screaming. Moments later, three men are seen running down Power's driveway. The first man, reported to be Power, runs north on Portugal Cove Road.

Barbara Reddigan, Power's girlfriend who lived with him at the home, is seen running down her driveway and approaching the two men who were getting into a car that was waiting in Power's driveway. 

"I asked them what they did to Billy," Reddigan testified in court.

The car drives south on Portugal Cove Road. The Crown said it does not know who was driving the getaway car. 

Bags carried from home

Megan Reddigan is seen running from Billy Power's home with two large bags in hand, just minutes after Nick Winsor was shot and killed. (CBC)

The next video was taken from a surveillance camera mounted on the front of Power's home, facing north on Portugal Cove Road. The video doesn't show the men arriving at the home, nor the chaos that followed the gunshot, but it does show a woman, in the minutes following Winsor's death, running into the house and coming back out with two big bags.

In court on Tuesday, Power's stepdaughter Megan Reddigan, 23, said her mother told her to get out of the house and away from the scene after Winsor's death. Reddigan said she left the home, along with two bags filled with her clothing.

The defence told the court that same day that Power was being investigated by police because of what else may have been in those bags.

According to the defence, Power is alleged to have stashed drugs in Reddigan's bags before the RNC arrived at the scene.

Men approaching

A man can be seen knocking on the rear for of Billy Power's home on the night Nick Winsor was killed. Barbara Reddigan says the man she saw was Philip Pynn. (CBC)

The next sequence comes from a camera that was mounted on the side of Power's garage, facing the house. This angle captured footage of a man in a hoodie walking up to the rear door of the home. The man knocks on the door around 10:30 p.m.

What the camera doesn't show is Barbara Reddigan on the other side of the door. She testified the unknown man at her door had a tattoo on his face, and was average height.

Power answered the door, and walked out of the home with the visitor, followed by two other men off-screen.

Reddigan pointed to Pynn in court on Tuesday, stating that he was the man she saw outside of her home that night.

Gunshot fired

Three men are seen running from Power's garage, after a gunshot and the sound of screaming. (CBC)

The last sequence contains what may be the most graphic of the surveillance footage entered in court. The camera angle faces the garage where Winsor was killed.

The video shows four men walking into the garage. The microphone picks up the noise of men talking, but what is being said can't be clearly heard.

Ask yourself: what does this tell me about what actually happened in the garage?- Mark Gruchy, one of  Philip Pynn's lawyers

Within a minute of the four men entering the garage, the sound of a gunshot can be heard, followed by men screaming. Only three men are seen running out of the garage shortly after.

Later, the video also shows Barbara and Megan Reddigan making the gruesome discovery of Nick Winsor's dead body on the garage floor.

"I was just hysterical because I thought it was Billy dead on the garage floor," Barbara Reddigan testified. But it wasn't, and her daughter is seen entering the garage with a flashlight to check.

Megan Reddigan said she saw a man with dark hair, wearing a blue hoodie, laying in a pool of blood on the garage floor.

At the end of the video, members of the RNC are seen slowly approaching the scene.

The defence has told jurors that Billy Power brought the visitors to the one place on his property that wasn't under surveillance. Mark Gruchy, one of Pynn's lawyers, put this to the jury, "Ask yourself: what does this tell me about what actually happened in the garage?"

The trial started on Sept. 23 in Supreme Court in St. John's, and is expected to last eight weeks.

About the Author

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