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Crown prosecutor had relationship with defendant’s sister

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

Details about Nick Westera and Felicia Pynn presented before acquittal of Jonathan Rowe in St. John’s

Former longtime Crown prosecutor Nick Westera was in a relationship with Felicia Pynn in the months after the shooting death of Nick Winsor, a court heard this week.

Felicia Pynn is the sister of Philip Pynn, who is serving time for manslaughter for his role in Winsor’s death.

The information came out during the trial of Jonathan Rowe at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s Thursday, through testimony given by RNC Insp. Tom Warren under cross-examination by defence lawyer Bob Buckingham.

Rowe was acquitted Friday morning of being an accessory to Winsor’s death. He had been accused of helping Philip Pynn evade police after Winsor was killed in July 2011.

Warren, then a sergeant investigating Winsor’s death, said he had interviewed Westera as part of that investigation.

Related story:
Last-ditch effort by St. John’s man charged with accessory to murder to get private lawyer denied

Westera and Felicia Pynn had exchanged about 600 text messages in the four months after Winsor was killed — a “sexting” relationship, Buckingham told The Telegram Friday afternoon. The relationship also allegedly included Westera visiting Felicia Pynn on occasion.

“The police had concerns. They didn’t think (Westera) was being truthful,” Buckingham said. “They asked him to turn over (his) cellphone, but he refused.”

Buckingham said Westera’s relationship with Felicia Pynn was the reason why prosecutors from Nova Scotia were called in for the trial of Philip Pynn and Lyndon Butler in 2014, information that had never before been made public.

Westera was a high-profile Crown prosecutor for more than 20 years before he was suspended in 2012 and investigated by police. The Department of Justice declined comment at that time, and dismissed Westera the following year. No charges were ever laid.

Westera then went into a short-lived private practice before retiring. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is currently studying for a master’s degree in theological studies.

Winsor was fatally shot in the garage of a home on Portugal Cove Road. Philip Pynn had originally been charged with second-degree murder, but was found guilty and sentenced to 8 ½ years in jail for manslaughter, assault and weapons charges. Butler was found not guilty of all charges.

Rowe — who had pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder — had asked the court for permission to have a government-paid private lawyer instead of legal aid, indicating he wanted Buckingham to represent him. He made numerous applications in this regard, but they all failed, as recently as last month.

Buckingham took the case anyway.

Buckingham said Rowe’s case was dismissed Friday without any submissions from him.

“The Crown didn’t even make it past first base,” he said, due to a lack of evidence. “It should not have even gotten this far.”

After what Buckingham said amounted to “six years of persecution,” Rowe is letting the news of his acquittal sink in.

“He’s ecstatic with having this burden lifted from his shoulders and moving on with his life,” Buckingham said.

 

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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