Suspect in N.S. killings didn’t have criminal record, but had been convicted of a crime

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 been convicted of 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. That included not having any contact with his male victim, attending counselling and programs for anger management as directed by his probation officer 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 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 can disappear off a person’s criminal record, the conviction may still be recognized 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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