Nova Scotia

Suspect in N.S. killings didn't have criminal record, but previously pleaded guilty to a crime

RCMP in Nova Scotia say the man who went on a deadly rampage throughout the province, leaving at least 22 people dead, did not have a criminal record. But court records show 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman pleaded guilty in a 2001 assault.

Gabriel Wortman pleaded guilty in a 2001 assault in Dartmouth, court records show

The Atlantic Denture Clinic is guarded by police in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, April 20. The business is owned by the alleged Nova Scotia killer. Court records show he was convicted of an assault that happened in 2001. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)


RCMP in Nova Scotia say the man who went on a deadly rampage throughout the province this weekend, leaving at least 22 people dead, did not have a criminal record.

But 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman had previously pleaded guilty to a crime.

Nova Scotia court records show that Wortman was charged with assaulting a male victim in Dartmouth on Oct. 29, 2001, when he was 33 years old. Wortman pleaded guilty to the single charge on Oct. 7, 2002.

He received a conditional discharge, meaning that he would be discharged by the court if he completed nine months of probation and paid a $50 victim fine surcharge. 

Wortman was convicted of assault in 2002, according to court documents. The assault happened in 2001 in Dartmouth. (CBC)

During those nine months, Wortman was ordered to follow several conditions. Those included not having any contact with the victim and not having "any firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, any kind of ammunition or explosive substance, or all such things." 

The probation order also ordered Wortman to "attend for assessment, counselling and programs for anger management," as directed by his probation officer.

A spokesperson with Nova Scotia's Department of Justice would not confirm whether the probation officer directed Wortman to take any such programs and if so, whether he completed them. The department also wouldn't provide any details about the probation officer.

"We do not release personal information of employees, and we cannot comment on an active police investigation," spokesperson Barbara MacLean wrote in an email to CBC News.

The court records don't spell out what happened on that October day in 2001, nor do they indicate whether Wortman completed the nine months of probation.

But if he did complete the probation and followed all the conditions, that would leave him without a criminal record, according to David Lutz, a New Brunswick-based criminal and family lawyer.

Conditional discharge typically given for 'low-level assaults'

"At the expiration of that time, if there is no repeat of the offence or no similar offence or no other contact with the law in terms of violations, then I can tell you that it will automatically disappear from his record," Lutz said.

Typically, a conditional discharge would be given for an assault where police aren't worried the offender will do it again, according to Lutz.

Conditional discharges are often handed out for low-level assaults, according to New Brunswick-based lawyer David Lutz. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

"A conditional discharge is given in circumstances where it is in the best interest of society and the best interest of the person who has been convicted," he said.

"Normally, these are very low-level assaults, where there is not bodily harm. One can only get a conditional discharge for minor offences."

While a conditional discharge won't appear on someone's criminal record, it may still be flagged at the U.S. border and could prevent someone from being bonded, Lutz said.

2 civil matters

Wortman also found himself in court on two civil matters in Nova Scotia over the last two decades.

In 2004, he took a dispute with a tenant at a Mineville, N.S., property to the province's residential tenancies board. Wortman said the tenant was restricting him from cleaning up and making repairs to the property, while the tenant argued he still owned it, according to court documents.

A residential tenancies officer ruled in favour of Wortman, terminating the tenancy and ordering that he "be given vacant possession" of the property.

In 2015, Wortman's uncle took him to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court over a dispute involving a Portapique property that he bought with the help of bridge financing from Wortman.

A judge ordered that all proceeds from the sale of the property should be the sole property of Wortman's uncle.

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Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. You can reach her at

With files from Taryn Grant and Madeline McNair