HALIFAX — The estate belonging to Nova Scotia mass murderer Gabriel Wortman is valued at $2.1 million — about one-third of which is in cash seized by police, according to newly released court documents.
Wortman was shot dead by a police officer at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on April 19, after the gunman had killed 22 people during a 13-hour rampage across the province.
The Dec. 14 appraisal prepared for the probate court says six properties listed under the killer’s name in Halifax and Portapique, N.S., — the small community where the killing began — are worth approximately $1.2 million.
Three corporations — including the 51-year-old’s denturist clinic — are valued at $128,711, while the appraiser estimated the killer had roughly $3,760 worth of household goods. The total amount of “cash on hand” is listed as $705,000, which the RCMP seized from the killer’s residence in Portapique.
The estate is facing several lawsuits, both from Wortman’s common law spouse, Lisa Banfield, and from the families of his victims. The victims’ families are trying to get a class action certified that seeks compensation for the deaths and for the damage Wortman caused.
Sandra McCulloch, a lawyer for the families, said what’s left of Wortman’s estate belongs to his many victims.
“Whether it’s a couple of dollars or a lot of dollars, our view is that the families are the people to whom those funds should go,” she said in an interview Monday. “The lawsuit would have carried on regardless of the size of the estate.”
Court documents have said the cash was stockpiled in the final weeks before Wortman drove through the province in a replica police vehicle, killing people he knew and didn’t know, and burning properties.
In applications for search warrants, police have stated that Wortman liquidated $475,000 of investments and requested the money in $100 bills, which he had picked up from a Brinks outlet in Halifax on March 30.
Witnesses quoted in the search warrant applications have said a “paranoid” Wortman was growing increasingly anxious about COVID-19 before he had liquidated the investments.
The newly released court document says a bank account in Wortman’s name had about $40,919 in it. It also lists a CPP death benefit worth $2,500 and a few small balances on credit cards.
The application for the class action against Wortman’s estate names three categories of plaintiffs. The first involves direct relatives of those killed, such as parents, children and spouses. The second involves all people who suffered personal injuries from the gunman, excluding Banfield. And the third category involves all people who suffered damage to property.
Banfield filed a notice of claim on the estate in probate court on Nov. 10. In the document, the lawyer for Wortman’s common law spouse said while Banfield isn’t a shareholder, “she and the deceased operated the (denturist) business as a joint venture,” adding that her work was critical to its success.
She also claimed the deceased and the estate would be “unjustly enriched if the applicant (Banfield) were not entitled “to a share of the assets in the name of the deceased (Wortman) at the time of his death.”
In addition, Banfield — who has renounced her right to be an executor of the estate, and has asked it be administered by the public trustee — launched her own legal action in August for damages against the estate.
At the time, she said she was the victim of assault and battery the night Wortman began his rampage and said she had suffered “intentional infliction of mental suffering.”
The RCMP has said Banfield was handcuffed but managed to escape and fled to nearby woods on the night of April 18. She emerged the next morning and told police at 6:30 a.m. that Wortman was driving a police replica vehicle.
On Dec. 4, the RCMP announced that three people, including Banfield, had been charged with supplying ammunition to the gunman. Police have said the alleged offences occurred between March 17 and April 18, but that those charged “had no prior knowledge of the gunman’s actions.”
The Halifax-based probate court provides for the protection of heirs, recipients of legacies and of estate creditors. It also provides a forum for adjudication and appoints executors, administrators, appraisers, and guardians in relation to all estate matters.
Adrienne Bowers, the solicitor for the public trustee, said in the court document that the initial value of the estate was pegged at about $1.2 million. She said that if new assets are discovered, she would alert the probate court within 30 days.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2020.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press