The Portapique sign on Highway 2 was adorned with a Nova Scotia tartan sash following the mass shooting that began there on April 18, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

The common-law spouse of the man who murdered 22 people across Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19, 2020 wants a part of the killer’s estate.

The Examiner refers to the killer as GW, his initials.

On Friday, Lisa Banfield filed a claim in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, asking the court to declare that she is entitled to “a share of the proceeds” of GW’s estate. She provides no dollar figure or percentage share for the claim.

The estate consisted of two adjacent properties on Portland Street in Dartmouth that included his denture clinic, three properties in Portapique, $705,000 in cash, Guaranteed Investment Certificates, and other assets. Some of the property may have been sold by the estate since GW’s death.

Banfield’s claim does not mention the mass murders, and merely states that GW “died on the morning of April 19, 2020.” GW was shot dead that morning by an RCMP officer at the Enfield Big Stop.

GW’s will had named Banfield as the executor of his estate, but she declined that role and asked the Probate Court to oversee disbursement of GW’s estate. The court agreed to the request on June 11, 2020.

By making claim to part of the estate, Banfield is attempting to at least in part preempt a class action lawsuit filed by family members of GW’s victims; the lawsuit specifically excluded Banfield from the class action. That class action will likely be certified next month.

This could be a thorny issue, as Banfield is charged with two counts of unlawfully providing GW with ammunition he used in the murder spree. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

In Friday’s court filing, Banfield says she met GW when she went to work part-time at the Atlantic Denture Clinic on Portland Street, and the two soon began a relationship. Banfield became a full-time employee of the clinic in 2005.

While she herself wasn’t a denturist, she did all other duties at the clinic including moulding, shaping, adjusting, and repairing dentures; scheduling patients; processing payments and insurance forms; banking; cleaning the Portland Street clinic and a satellite clinic on Novalea Drive in Halifax; maintaining records; and marketing of the clinic.

She was paid by the hour, but “she did a significant level of work above and beyond the number of hours she was paid for” and she and GW “always considered themselves to be business partners.”

Banfield says she used her personal funds to pay for joint household expenses, and that allowed revenue from the denture clinic to be saved and invested. GW, she says, “had no other source of income beyond the revenue” generated by the clinic, and he used that revenue to buy the Dartmouth and Portapique properties.

GW “insisted on being in full control of the finances.” They had discussed retirement plans, intending one day selling the Dartmouth clinic and opening a part-time denture clinic in Colchester County to pay for ongoing personal expenses.

She notes that GW’s will “left certain bequests [to Banfield] and also left her the full residue of [the estate’s net assets].”

Specific to Banfield’s claim to the estate, the court filing says that Banfield “was a crucial and instrumental part of the grown and operation of Atlantic [the denture clinic],” which ” would not have been able to generate the revenue it did without [Banfield’s] contributions.”

Moreover, she and GW “always proceeded on the basis that they were partners and they would jointly enjoy the benefits of the revenues generated by Atlantic.”

Potential creditors of the estate — which include the victims’ families who have sued the estate — “would be unjustly enriched if some of the assets held in the name of [GW] at the time of his death or the value of those assets were not transferred to [Banfield], reads the claim.

Banfield is represented by Dartmouth lawyer Peter Rumscheidt.

A hearing date has not yet been set.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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