Nova Scotia

N.S. declined to seize insurance money granted to mentally ill man who killed wife

Nova Scotia’s Justice Department twice told the province’s Supreme Court it would not apply to seize life insurance money granted to a Cape Breton man found not criminally responsible for killing his wife.

Justice Department notes law only allows forfeiture to province, not third parties

Richard Maidment, second from left, is surrounded by deputy sheriffs at the courthouse in Sydney, N.S. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Nova Scotia's Justice Department twice told the province's Supreme Court it would not apply to seize life insurance money granted to a Cape Breton man found not criminally responsible for killing his wife.

The detail is noted by Justice Frank Edwards in followup comments to his ruling last week that Richard Maidment is entitled to his wife's life insurance, which totals $200,000 plus interest.

Maidment, 42, who also uses the surname McNeil, killed Sarabeth Forbes on April 18, 2017, in the home they shared in Gardiner Mines, N.S. He was found not criminally responsible in December 2017.

Two years earlier, Forbes named Maidment as beneficiary to her life insurance and her son as a contingent.

In granting the money to Maidment — and not to the couple's 12-year-old son, who is now being raised by his grandmother — Edwards noted Maidment doesn't benefit from a crime because he didn't commit a crime and is not a criminal.

Last week, a law professor noted there is precedent for provincial governments to intervene in such cases, under the province's Civil Forfeiture Act.

Province 'does not have an interest' in case

In additional written comments released Monday, Edwards noted the court notified the province's attorney general of the claim for the life insurance, made by Maidment's mother on his behalf.

Edwards said in a letter dated Aug. 6, 2019, a solicitor of the civil forfeiture unit of the Justice Department wrote that "the province of Nova Scotia will not be participating in this matter."

After the unit was advised that Forbes's mother, Emeline Forbes, had filed an counter application for the insurance money on behalf of the couple's son, a lawyer for the department advised the court that it "does not have an interest in the proceedings."

Sarabeth Forbes was killed on April 18, 2017, in the home she shared with Richard Maidment in Gardiner Mines, N.S. (Submitted by Tanya Hennick-McNeil)

Edward noted that because the province did not intervene in the case, "My decision did not deal with provisions of the Civil Forfeiture Act."

The Justice Department declined an interview request.

But in a statement, spokesperson Barbara MacLean noted the Civil Forfeiture Act only allows for forfeiture of property — including money — to the province, and not to third parties. 

"To clarify, this means when applying the act under any circumstances, forfeited money would go into the general revenue of the province, and would not be able to be given to a third party."

MacLean declined to comment further, as it is a "private legal matter."