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Newfoundland and Labrador premier wins temporary media ban on Phillips trial documents

Brandon Phillips enters the courtroom at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s during his murder trial. The jury will begin deliberating the case today.
Brandon Phillips enters the courtroom at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s during his murder trial. - Tara Bradbury

Coverage of documents in Brandon Phillips murder case subject to injunction; jurors begin deliberations

Hours before the jury began deliberations on a verdict for accused murderer Brandon Phillips, Premier Dwight Ball was awarded a temporary injunction preventing media outlets, including The Telegram, from publishing details about certain documents connected with the trial.

The documents weren’t provided to the jury and were thus banned from publication until the jurors were sequestered to begin deliberating, which they did Tuesday afternoon.

Late Monday afternoon, Ball filed an application with the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court against all media outlets. The details of the application cannot be published. Justice Raymond Whalen granted a temporary injunction and the matter will be back before the courts Dec. 19.

Ball’s lawyer, Peter O’Flaherty, emailed a statement to members of the media Tuesday evening.

The murder trial of Brandon Phillips: what you need to know

“In October 2015, Dwight Ball, as a private citizen, provided information of his own accord to the police regarding a homicide. He recognizes that as a public figure his actions in assisting the police in 2015 are now arguably a matter of public interest. But as a father, he has acted to protect the privacy of an innocent person,” O’Flaherty wrote. “You will appreciate that he cannot comment on this matter while it is before the courts.”

Phillips, 29, is accused of first-degree murder, armed robbery, wearing a disguise with the intent to commit a crime, and possessing a weapon dangerous to the public in connection with the Oct. 3, 2015 shooting death of 63-year-old Larry Wellman. Wellman and his wife were having a drink at the bar in the Captain’s Quarters hotel when a masked man entered with a sawed-off shotgun, demanding money from the lone bartender. Wellman was fatally shot when he attempted to intervene.

The court heard testimony from 15 witnesses over three weeks, including RNC Const. Gregory Greeley, who was tasked with the surveillance of a number of people of interest in the murder investigation, including Phillips and his girlfriend, Jade Ball, daughter of Dwight Ball. Greeley testified he had been asked to watch the Tiffany Lane apartment belonging to Dwight Ball as part of his surveillance of the couple, as well as two of Dwight Ball’s cars.

After spending most of the day receiving detailed instructions on how to apply the law in this case from Justice Valerie Marshall, the six women and six men of the jury were dismissed to begin deliberating around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Marshall provided the jurors with the legal definitions of first- and second-degree murder as well as manslaughter, explaining the elements required for a conviction in each case. She suggested they consider the testimony of the witnesses as well as video surveillance captured inside the hotel bar the night of the shooting.

Marshall also reminded the jury that Phillips is considered innocent until proven guilty, and explained it was up to Crown prosecutors to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Phillips had to prove nothing, she said.

“When you go to the jury room, use the same common sense you use every day,” Marshall explained.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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