Nova Scotia

Ammunition charge in N.S. mass murder case sent to restorative justice

One of three people accused of supplying ammunition to the Nova Scotia gunman who murdered 22 people in April 2020 has had his case referred to restorative justice.

RCMP have said Brian Brewster, 61, didn't know what gunman would do with ammunition

Brian Brewster, 61, left, is shown with his lawyer, Tom Singleton, on Wednesday at Dartmouth provincial court. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

One of three people accused of supplying ammunition to the Nova Scotia gunman who murdered 22 people in April 2020 has had his case referred to restorative justice.

Brian Brewster, 61, and his lawyer, Tom Singleton, appeared in Nova Scotia provincial court in Dartmouth Wednesday to begin the restorative justice process.

"My client is quite happy to see the end of this approaching," Singleton said outside court.

Brewster is the brother-in-law of Lisa Banfield, the gunman's common-law partner. She, Brewster and her brother James Banfield are accused of supplying ammunition to the gunman, although police and the Crown have stressed the three did not know what the ammunition was going to be used for.

The restorative justice program typically brings offenders, victims and communities together to resolve issues without incarceration. It requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions. If Brewster completes the program without issue, the charge will be withdrawn and he will have no criminal record.

A burned vehicle at the site of the gunman's home on Portapique Beach Road in Portapique, N.S., is shown May 13, 2020. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Brewster was to go on trial in July on the single charge of providing the shooter with .223-calibre Remington cartridges and .40-calibre Smith & Wesson cartridges in the month before the massacre.

"The Crown's mandated to consider all charges for restorative justice, and certainly once Mr. Brewster acknowledged responsibility for the offence and Ms. Banfield was sent to restorative justice in consultation with community justice, it was determined that it was a just and positive outcome for these charges," Crown prosecutor Shauna MacDonald said Wednesday.

Lisa Banfield had already opted to have her charge referred to restorative justice, paving the way for her to testify at a public inquiry underway examining the mass killings.

The third accused, James Banfield, pleaded guilty to the ammunition charge in January. He's to be sentenced in June.

"I think it would be inappropriate to discuss James Banfield at this time," MacDonald said. "That's obviously something that we're dealing with and we will continue to deal with."

The prosecutor said she didn't know the specific details of the restorative justice process for Brewster.

Criticism of charges

Earlier this year, Singleton alleged that RCMP had only laid the charge against Brewster to divert criticism of their handling of the mass murders.

Singleton said Wednesday the decision to send the case to restorative justice will resolve his concerns.

"Once the matter has been referred to restorative justice, it's going to be dealt with through that process and any proceedings in provincial court, with the exception of coming back for a status update in July, basically end up being dismissed," Singleton said.