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Steven Neville chats with Brittany Whalen, a lawyer with his defence firm Bob Buckingham Law, during a break in closing submissions at his trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon.
Steven Neville chats with Brittany Whalen, a lawyer with his defence firm Bob Buckingham Law, during a break in closing submissions at his trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Tuesday afternoon. - Tara Bradbury

Bob Buckingham begins closing address, tells jurors Steven Neville acted in self-defence

Steven Neville's lawyer began his closing submissions Tuesday after 10 weeks of trial, and asked the jury not to believe the only living victim in the case.

Bob Buckingham, who is representing Neville on charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder, insisted Ryan Dwyer had reason to fabricate some details while not remembering others when he testified as a Crown witness.

"The mature, the well-spoken Ryan Dwyer you saw on the stand was not the conniving, immature, manipulative Ryan Dwyer who terrorized Mr. Neville over $65 he owed his brother in 2010," Buckingham said. "You saw Jekyll and Hyde."

Neville, 27, is accused of having murdered 19-year-old Doug Flynn and seriously injured Dwyer by stabbing them with a knife during an altercation on a Paradise street 10 years ago.

Buckingham maintained, as he did in his opening remarks in September, that Neville acted in self-defence, having been the subject of a "terror campaign" by Flynn and Dwyer over the preceding weeks.

Flynn and Dwyer had terrorized Neville in person, on social media and via cellphone, the defence lawyer said, using weapons such as brass knuckles and nunchucks, chasing him in vehicles and posting threats to break into his house and assault his mother.

The two men had tried to isolate Neville from his friends, Buckingham said, by bullying him and convincing his friends to become spies, reporting on his whereabouts. Dwyer was "the orchestrator" of the harassment, he told the jury.

"This was the campaign that was on Mr. Neville's mind (that night)," Buckingham said, at one point referring to Dwyer and Flynn as thugs.

Buckingham reviewed aspects of witness testimony presented over the past three months, focusing on the alleged murder weapon: a knife that had originally belonged to Kyle Miller, a friend of Flynn and Dwyer.

Miller had testified via videolink from B.C., viewing the knife when Buckingham held it close to the TV screen, and confirming it was once his. He had moved into the basement apartment where Flynn and Dwyer were living, he said, and had noticed a number of his belongings, including the knife, had gone missing.

"The Crown is going to theorize that Mr. Miller gave Mr. Neville the knife," Buckingham said. "There's no evidence of that. There's no evidence Mr. Neville took the knife from Mr. Miller's house. There's a possibility, but you can't convict on speculation."

The testimony of a man who said Neville had showed him a knife at a party weeks before the stabbing and had told him he carried it for protection didn't mean Neville had a knife on him the night Flynn and Dwyer were stabbed, Buckingham said.

"Not one single Crown witness can place a knife in Mr. Neville's hand that night," he continued.

Lawyers Bob Buckingham (left) and Robert Hoskins are representing Steven Neville at his retrial for the stabbing death of Doug Flynn and the attempted murder of Ryan Dwyer in the fall of 2010.
Lawyers Bob Buckingham (left) and Robert Hoskins are representing Steven Neville at his retrial for the stabbing death of Doug Flynn and the attempted murder of Ryan Dwyer in the fall of 2010.

Buckingham scoffed at Dwyer's testimony that he had been looking for a confrontation with Neville the night in question, but had only wanted a fistfight, saying Neville had no way to know that, given what had previously been going on.

"It's pretty easy for Mr. Dwyer to say that now, after the fact," the lawyer said.

Buckingham, who is co-counsel for Neville, alongside Robert Hoskins, will continue his closing remarks Wednesday morning when Neville's trial resumes. After that it will be the Crown's turn to present its submissions.

Prosecutors Jessica Gallant and Jason House called 14 witnesses to the stand during the first six weeks of the trial, presenting evidence to suggest Neville had devised a plan to kill Flynn and Dwyer and jumped out of a moving car to put it into action.

They tendered evidence of text messages Neville had sent to a friend on the day of the stabbing, saying, “This is it, they’re dead, dead, dead. I’m stabbing them until they are squirting blood."

Dwyer and Flynn had been looking for a fistfight, but attempted to run away when they were stabbed, the prosecutors have maintained.

This is Neville’s second time on trial for murdering Flynn and attempting to murder Dwyer. A jury originally convicted him of second-degree murder in 2013, but the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada two years later. The court found there were problems with the trial judge’s instructions to the jury, and ordered a new trial for Neville.

Justice Robert Stack, who is presiding over the new trial, told jurors when it began not to speculate on the reasons for the retrial.

Stack excused one of the 12 jurors as proceedings began Tuesday, to allow him time to attend medical appointments due to a broken bone.

Once the lawyers finish their closing arguments, Stack will spend a day or so instructing the jurors on how to apply the law, before dismissing them to begin their deliberations on a verdict.

tara_bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury


Related story:
St. John's judge tells jury to disregard media reports on Steven Neville's old murder trial as retrial begins

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