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Defendant’s former girlfriend testifies at St. John's home-invasion trial

From left, defendants Gary Hennessey, Mitchell Nippard and Abdifatah Mohamed sit in the prisoners’ dock Monday in St. John’s.
From left, defendants Gary Hennessey, Mitchell Nippard and Abdifatah Mohamed sit in the prisoners’ dock Monday in St. John’s. - Glen Whiffen

Accused had to ‘go to work’

There was some obvious tension in the courtroom during a home-invasion trial in St. John’s Monday as the former girlfriend of one of the four accused took the witness stand.

Kaylen King, who appeared nervous and uneasy at times during her testimony, said that one night last February her then-boyfriend Mitchell Nippard got a phone call and that he and co-accused Gary Hennessey left in a hurry to “go get milk.”

She also testified that Nippard told her that the two other accused in the case — Abdifatah Mohamed and Tyler Donahue, along with another person, Mohamed Salim, who is now deceased — had to “go to work” in the Topsail Pond area.

He explained, she said, that they had to go to someone’s house.

At one point, King said, Nippard told her that they were “going to do a break-in.”

“Mitch told me there was a girl in the house with a baby, and there was a dog there,” she said.

Nippard shook his head at some points during King’s testimony, and called his lawyer over to speak with her.

Under cross-examination, Nippard’s lawyer, Shanna Wicks, pointed out that originally when speaking to police King had been “adamant” that neither Nippard nor Hennessey were involved in home invasions.

“During those occasions (speaking with police) you never told the police that Mr. Nippard indicated anything to you about a home invasion. Correct?” asked Wicks.

“Correct,” King replied.

Wicks noted there were unrelated matters for which King went to police to complain about Nippard.

“In those statements you never told police that Mr. Nippard had told you anything about a home invasion,” Wicks said.

“No, because that was a different matter,” King replied.

The trial is taking place in provincial court in St. John’s. Donahue, 24, Hennessey, 33, Nippard, 26, and Mohamed, 28, face numerous charges in connection with four home invasions in February 2017 during which victims were reportedly tied up, assaulted and robbed. Nippard is also accused of shooting two dogs during the robberies, killing one.

A fifth man, Salim, 28, is also believed to have been involved, but was found dead March 3 in a quarry off the Trans-Canada Highway near Paradise. It is believed he died in the cold while attempting to escape from police.

Mohamed is the only one of the four who is representing himself. At one point during the Crown’s questioning of King, Mohamed stood and told Judge Mike Madden that the Crown was leading the witness.

Throughout King’s testimony, the judge and lawyers had to remind King to speak up, as they had trouble hearing her.

Nippard also yelled out, “Can’t hear her,” to which Madden told him not to do that, but to inform his lawyer, who would inform the court.

Earlier on Monday, witness Ivan Crant completed his testimony.

While on the witness stand last week, both he and his wife told the court of a terrifying home invasion in which they and others in the home and shed had their hands secured with tie wraps, and they were held at gunpoint while masked men demanded money from their son.

Crant said Monday that among the items stolen were guns from his son’s gun cabinet.

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