Steven Neville cleared of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der charges

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY TARA BRAD­BURY

Steven Neville blew out the long breath he had been hold­ing as he sat, for the first time since his trial be­gan three months ago, in the pris­oner’s dock and not in the seat next to his lawyers and heard him­self de­clared not guilty.

He broke into a grin, which quickly dis­ap­peared as he turned over his left shoul­der to look at the loved ones of Doug Flynn and Ryan Dwyer in the gallery, sob­bing for the same rea­son Neville was over­joyed. Af­ter a New­found­land and Labrador Supreme Court trial that lasted nearly 11 weeks, and af­ter al­most nine full days of jury de­lib­er­a­tions, Neville, 27, was ac­quit­ted of charges of sec­ond­de­gree mur­der and at­tempted mur­der in con­nec­tion with the fa­tal stab­bing of 19-year-old Doug Flynn and a sec­ond man, Ryan Dwyer, in 2010.

Af­ter court, Neville’s lawyer,

Bob Buck­ing­ham, told mem­bers of the me­dia it was a day of re­lief for his client, but not a day to cel­e­brate. Buck­ing­ham and co-coun­sel Robert Hoskins main­tained through­out the trial that Neville acted in self-de­fence the night Flynn was killed and Dwyer stabbed mul­ti­ple times dur­ing an al­ter­ca­tion on a street in Par­adise.

In his open­ing and closing state­ments to the jury, Buck­ing­ham de­scribed in­ci­dents where Flynn and Dwyer had re­port­edly chased Neville in ve­hi­cles, threat­ened on so­cial me­dia to as­sault his mother and at­tempted to at­tack him with weapons such as brass knuck­les, a base­ball bat, knives and nunchucks.

On the night they were stabbed, Flynn and Dwyer had been on a “search and de­stroy” mis­sion when it came to Neville, Buck­ing­ham said.

Pros­e­cu­tors Jes­sica Gal­lant and Ja­son House pre­sented ev­i­dence at trial they said proved Neville had planned to mur­der Flynn and Dwyer, in­clud­ing text mes­sages he had sent to a friend on the day of the stab­bing, say­ing he was go­ing to stab the two men and that they were “dead, dead, dead.”

Buck­ing­ham said he wasn’t sur­prised with the not guilty ver­dict.

It’s been a long process for fam­i­lies on both sides of the case. Neville was charged and orig­i­nally con­victed of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der by a jury in 2013, but that con­vic­tion was later over­turned by the Supreme Court of Canada, which took is­sue with as­pects of the orig­i­nal judge’s in­struc­tions to the ju­rors — specif­i­cally, his re­sponse to a jury ques­tion.

“We re­al­ize this may be a ridicu­lous ques­tion, but we would like to clar­ify that the le­gal def­i­ni­tion of ‘to kill’ is the same as ‘to mur­der,’ the jury asked. The coun­try’s high court ruled the judge should have an­swered the ques­tion in­stead of telling the ju­rors to re­view the in­for­ma­tion he had al­ready pro­vided.

A new trial was or­dered and Neville was even­tu­ally re­leased on bail, but not be­fore spend­ing 5 ½ years in prison. Neville was back in cus­tody briefly this past sum­mer, when he was charged with as­sault­ing a woman, dis­tribut­ing an in­ti­mate im­age of her and breach­ing his bail con­di­tions in Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber of 2017. Those charges are still be­fore the court.

While his happy fam­ily mem­bers watched off-cam­era, Neville stood be­tween his lawyers and spoke to re­porters be­fore he left the court­house. He said he has cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in heavy equip­ment op­er­a­tion and was look­ing for­ward to get­ting to work, spend­ing Christ­mas with his fam­ily and friends, and hav­ing “a great fu­ture.”

Neville

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