Cape Breton man charged with first-degree murder in death of common-law partner appears briefly in provincial court
A 40-year-old Gardiner Mines man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his common-law partner made a brief provincial court appearance Wednesday and was remanded until his next court date April 26.
Richard Wayne McNeil, 40, is charged in the death of 33-yearold Sara-Beth Ann Forbes whose remains were found Tuesday inside a home the couple shared with their young son on O’Brien Street in Gardiner Mines.
Dressed in a one-piece painter coverall, issued by Cape Breton Regional Police who seized McNeil’s clothing as part of their investigation, McNeil appeared in court surrounded by five sheriff deputies while four others were posted outside the courtroom in the hallway.
Also present in court were a large number of McNeil’s family and friends.
Prosecutor Steve Drake said the Crown was opposing McNeil’s release and asked the court to amend the court information to reflect the proper spelling of the last name of the accused from MacNeil to McNeil.
Also, Drake asked provincial court Judge Ann Marie MacInnes to issue a temporary publication ban on the name of the victim citing concerns that not all family members may have been notified.
Nova Scotia Legal Aid lawyer Matt MacNeil said the defence took no position concerning the proposed ban.
Drake admitted to the court he was unable to find any case law concerning such a ban in such a case noting the name had already been reported by media who retrieved copies of the information from the court earlier in the day.
MacInnes said she was not about to interfere with the rights of a free press in such a case and without the Crown being able to recite any legal authority for such a ban, she was denying the Crown’s request.
Matt MacNeil told the court there were concerns being expressed about the condition of
his client’s mental health and urged the accused to report any concerns he may have immediately to officials at the Cape Breton Correctional Centre, a provincial jail.
In speaking with reporters outside the courtroom, Drake said he was not able to disclose the cause of death adding police are continuing their investigation.
In proceeding with a first-degree murder charge, the Crown is alleging there was some level of premeditation in the crime. A conviction on such a charge comes with an automatic sentence of 25 years.
Accused murderer Richard Wayne McNeil, 40, leaves a Sydney provincial courtoom Wednesday after being charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of his common-law partner. McNeil is to return to court April 26.