Inquiry learns details of abuse, control suffered by spouse of N.S. mass shooter

Warning: particulars are disturbing.

The primary time Lisa Banfield says she was bodily abused by her companion was a terrifying assault w. she bumped into the woods within the early 2000s.

“He was operating after me and I used to be screaming my head off, after which he caught me after which he … you realize, I had blood throughout me and he was dragging me again,” Banfield recalled to police.

It is a scene she stated performed out once more years later, the night time her common-law partner Gabriel Wortman started a taking pictures rampage in Portapique, N.S., that would depart 22 Nova Scotians useless.

The gunman’s violence, emotional abuse and different controlling behaviour towards Banfield all through their 19-year relationship are outlined in a brand new foundational doc launched Wednesday by the Mass Casualty Fee. The doc relies on interviews with Banfield, her household and different witnesses.

The fee is main the inquiry into the mass shootings on April 18 and 19, 2020, analyzing the tragedy and the components that led as much as it, together with the violence in Wortman’s household and his historical past of harassment and assaults on others.

Banfield, who is about to testify earlier than the inquiry for the primary time Friday, gave 4 police interviews following the bloodbath and 5 interviews with the fee itself in latest months.

Bodily abuse started after celebration

The paperwork present that Banfield met Wortman in Could 2001 on the now-defunct Halifax pub, the Thirsty Duck.

On their first date, he confirmed up with a dozen long-stemmed roses. Banfield felt that was “too showy,” and stated she wasn’t impressed. However later within the night, she was impressed by the gunman’s calm manner when his automobile was rear-ended.

Issues moved rapidly after that. Three months later, Banfield had moved in with the gunman.

Initially, she described Wortman as “candy and caring.” That was earlier than the primary time she was bodily abused, following a celebration at a cottage in Sutherland Lake, a couple of half-hour drive north of Portapique.

Though witnesses differed on when the incident occurred — Banfield stated it was in 2001, others recommended it was as late as 2007 — the fee stated it was seemingly after October 2002 when the gunman purchased his Portapique cottage.

The burned out stays of Gabriel Wortman’s house on Portapique Seashore Street, N.S., taken Could 13, 2020. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Banfield stated Renée Karsten, a denturist who labored with Wortman at his Dartmouth clinic, invited the couple up for the night time. However when Banfield wished to depart and provided to take the gunman’s Jeep house so he may keep, this “set him off.”

As she left, the gunman jumped within the automobile and commenced hitting her within the head as she continued making an attempt to drive. Banfield stated she was crying so onerous she could not see, so she stopped and fled into the woods.

The gunman quickly caught Banfield and dragged her again to the automobile, however she ran away once more when a bunch of individuals from the celebration arrived.

Karsten advised police she noticed Wortman dragging Banfield by the hair within the driveway, so she “misplaced it” and tried to intervene.

“His face and simply the look in his eyes … it scared the hell out of me,” Karsten advised police.

Police concerned, no costs laid

Karsten introduced Banfield again to the cottage, and police got here and drove the gunman again to his Portapique house. Banfield stated that was the one time police had been concerned, and nothing got here of the incident.

The fee stated within the doc it is unclear precisely why police had been referred to as and what they knew concerning the scenario. Whereas police information from this time “could have been purged” by now, the fee continues to analyze.

When Banfield ultimately returned to the Portapique cottage that night time, she noticed the gunman pulling the tires off her automobile and throwing them over a financial institution. He advised her to come back inside, however she went to a neighbour’s and waited for her niece to choose her up.

The niece, Stephanie Goulding, stated Banfield was bloody and scraped up, with torn clothes. Goulding wished to cease into the Truro police station to report the assault, however Banfield “begged” her to not, so as an alternative a sister took photographs of her accidents.

Banfield moved again into her sister Maureen Banfield’s house after this, however Wortman quickly started visiting and apologizing, saying he’d been consuming and he would by no means harm her once more — and so they obtained again collectively.

This sample would proceed by means of the years, each Banfield and two of her sisters advised police. The few instances her household knew of the abuse and urged her to report it or go away the connection, Banfield did not need to take that step.

The gunman would usually kick and punch the components of her physique that might be coated by clothes, Banfield stated, like legs and arms. If he left marks on her neck whereas choking her, Banfield stated she would use make-up to cowl them.

On no less than two events, Banfield stated he put a gun to her head. 

“He would say afterwards, ‘If I did not love you, I would not do that as a result of that is how a lot I care about you,'” she advised the fee.

One sister, Janice Banfield, referred to as the gunman a “sociopath” and stated she thought “we’re gonna need to bury our sister in the future.”

However Banfield stated she felt she had now. to go, as a result of the gunman ceaselessly threatened to kill her or her household if she ever left him.

“He can be like, ‘I do know w. your loved ones lives,’ and take a look at me a sure method,” she stated.

Violence extra prevalent than first reported

Whereas Banfield initially advised RCMP officers t. had been round 10 incidents of bodily abuse through the years, she has since advised the fee t. had been truly much more.

“I simply do not belief very effectively, and I used to be scared to say something,” she advised the fee this Could.

She initially advised police years would go by between assaults, and the final time had been three years earlier than the mass taking pictures. Upon reflection, Banfield advised the fee that was a part of her coping mechanism. 

Banfield would write a journal entry about an incident however by no means revisit it, so she believed an assault hadn’t occurred in years despite the fact that it was occurring “all alongside.”

“I’d simply have to dam it out as a result of … I wanted to cope with no matter is occurring in that second, so I could not take into consideration what’s gone on,” Banfield stated.

Just one neighbour reported abuse

T. had been no less than two cases of abuse witnessed by different folks in Portapique. 

Sooner or later, the gunman’s uncle Glynn Wortman and one other neighbour noticed him choking Banfield on the entrance garden of their cottage. The uncle yelled, “You are identical to your father, get off of her,” Banfield recalled.

Earlier this week, the inquiry heard accounts from a number of of the gunman’s uncles describing incidents of his father, Paul Wortman, abusing his spouse, Evelyn.

One Portapique neighbour, Brenda Forbes, heard concerning the incident Glynn Wortman noticed and reported it to the RCMP in 2013. Nothing got here of her criticism, and Forbes stated nobody else locally believed her or wished to get entangled. 

Banfield stated she by no means advised her household physician concerning the abuse, and was cautious to schedule visits solely when she had no seen accidents.

Psychologist urged her to depart

However at one level, Banfield stated issues had been “so unhealthy” she noticed a psychologist in Bedford who advised her she was in an abusive relationship. This skilled supplied assist and inspired her to depart, however the gunman discovered about it and made her cease.

The gunman additionally threatened to confront the physician, Banfield stated, and he or she felt “trapped.”

Though Banfield stated she was at all times “on eggshells” across the gunman, by no means understanding what would set him off, she persistently forgave his behaviour and tried to point out him he was cherished as a result of “all people at all times left him.”

In a press release to the fee, Banfield wrote she felt unhealthy for the gunman when he advised her about how his father abused him as a toddler, particularly as a result of she had such a big and loving household.

“I believed I may assist him if I simply cherished him unconditionally,” Banfield stated.

Controlling, isolating behaviour 

The vary of abuse the gunman inflicted on Banfield suits into the definitions of intimate-partner violence and coercive management, that are specified by an inquiry report from Dr. Katreena Scott on interventions to handle abuse.

Scott writes that intimate-partner violence features a vary of behaviours in addition to bodily violence, like undesirable sexual exercise, threats, humiliation, and financial abuse which deprives a sufferer of the flexibility to supply for their very own wants.

Coercive management is a set of behaviours that disempower somebody in a relationship, Scott stated, like eradicating their liberties, threats to their household, and limiting entry to family members or transportation.

“Very early on t. had been so many indicators of his controlling or bullying behaviour, however by some means, I used to be in a position to block it out and justify to myself how badly he handled me,” Banfield wrote in a press release to the fee.

“Gabriel was jealous, controlling, possessive, extraordinarily degrading, and piggish; it was ‘his method or the freeway.'”

Twenty-two folks died on April 18 and 19, 2020. High row from left: Gina Goulet, Daybreak Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from prime: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Backside row: Emily Tuck, Pleasure Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (CBC)

Banfield stated inside the first couple of years, the gunman was in a position to persuade her to stop her financial institution job at RBC so she may come work for his denturist enterprise, which might make it simpler for them to take break day and journey collectively. 

“I notice now that he simply wished to regulate my complete life,” Banfield wrote to the fee.

He urged her to promote the automobile she’d had all through her earlier marriage, and he ultimately purchased her a Mercedes underneath his title.

Banfield was within the gunman’s will by 2011, however her sister Maureen Banfield was nervous she’d be left with nothing in the event that they broke up as a result of she had no different revenue or investments of her personal.

By 2020, Banfield stated she believed she was making round $25 an hour, however the clinic did not have an everyday payroll system. As an alternative, the gunman would write her cheques from a enterprise account or give her money, typically deducting a share from her cheques “for retirement,” she stated.

“He handled all the cash issues, so I trusted no matter,” Banfield advised the fee.

‘He wished me to know that with out him, I had nothing’

Moreover her work at his clinics, Banfield stated she would wait on the gunman “hand and foot” by making all of the meals and dealing with the cleansing and organizing of the family. She advised one among her sisters it was the best way she was raised and he or she wished to tackle these duties.

Banfield stated in her written assertion the gunman managed every part in her life, so when she did not obey, he may take issues away to “punish her,” together with her automobile keys, cellphone and wage.

“He wished me to know that with out him, I had nothing. I believed that,” she wrote. “Made me really feel so silly and incapable of doing issues alone despite the fact that I did every part for him.”

The gunman additionally usually groped Banfield in entrance of her household as a result of he thought “it was humorous,” she stated, and their sexual relationship was at all times outlined by his needs and desires, not hers.

Intercourse between them didn’t contain intimacy or tenderness, Banfield wrote to the fee, and stated the gunman was “hooked on pornography.” 

Regardless of his many affairs, together with with Portapique neighbours or his personal sufferers, Banfield stated she forgave him each time — and “I’m so ashamed of that.”

Sad with Banfield socializing

Whereas Banfield stated the gunman would usually change into mad at her for desirous to see her siblings or different household, Banfield stated he additionally did not like her changing into too pleasant with folks in Portapique.

If he noticed her having enjoyable at neighbourhood events, Banfield stated the gunman would put her down in entrance of others for “appearing like an fool” and drag her away by the arm. If she refused, he would change into violent and slap her or pull her hair.

At work, Banfield stated he additionally belittled her and screamed at her in entrance of sufferers. When out for dinner one night time, the gunman threw a glass of water in her face and left her alone within the restaurant.

The gunman’s controlling behaviour and jealousy appeared to weigh on Banfield’s thoughts. One time, Banfield noticed one other denturist whereas out consuming together with her sister, and was terrified they could inform the gunman as a result of she wasn’t imagined to be out.

When her mom died, her highschool boyfriend attended the funeral, however Banfield us.d him out, saying the gunman disliked him and can be upset he was t..

The violence and management from the gunman lasted till April 18, 2020, when he attacked Banfield on the night time of their nineteenth anniversary. He threw her in his mock RCMP cruiser, however she stated she escaped by means of a gap within the automobile’s partition and hid within the woods in a single day.


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