No contact order approved between accused Penticton killer and his ex-wife

John Brittain is accused of shooting and killing his ex-wife’s neighbours

A judge has approved a no communication order between the man accused of fatally shooting four people in Penticton and his ex-wife.

John Brittain is accused of shooting and killing his ex-wife’s neighbours — Darlene Knippelberg, Susan and Barry Wonch and Rudi Winter — in April. He appeared at the courthouse via video from the Okanagan Correctional Institution on Friday.

READ MORE: Penticton man charged with murder makes short tense court appearance

Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys said the reasoning behind the order is to not risk the integrity of the investigation, as well as the potential that the ex-wife is called as a witness.

The family of one of the four that were shot wept in the gallery as Brittain’s defence lawyer, Paul McMurray, made his argument against the order. McMurray said he had already advised and cautioned the ex-spouse that she could potentially be called as a witness. However, Brittain and his ex-wife have already had contact since he has been in jail.

READ MORE: Penticton mayor recounts accused shooter’s time working at city

“They were in a close relationship, apart from living separate and apart, but they were supportive of each other and they still are supportive of each other. Mrs. (Katherine) Brittain has relayed to me that she is isolated, she’s somewhat of a prisoner in her own home. She has no support in the community and she does have limited contact with Mr. Brittain. He has corresponded with her,” said McMurray, who added that he believes they have had one telephone conversation.

READ MORE: Friend of man accused of killing four people in Penticton in ‘absolute shock’

McMurray said the risk to the integrity of the investigation is minimal and that any contact whether telephone, letters, or visitation at the jail (which would be via video link and not face-to-face) would be monitored “under a microscope.” He suggested that RCMP could step up the monitoring if required, but the communication between the ex-spouses is purely for emotional support.

Judge Gregory Koturbash said he did not agree that RCMP would be able to step up monitoring or that the type of stringent over-seeing that defence suggested would be sufficient to ensure the integrity of the investigation.

“I am not entirely confident that monitoring can effectively take place. There was a recent case here in this area, a case where Mr. (Ronald) Teneycke, he was able to send a letter to his victim despite being a declared a dangerous offender and being ordered not to have contact with the victim. So he was able to communicate with him while he was in jail,” said Koturbash.

READ MORE: Administrative error results in do-over for South Okanagan dangerous offender’s trial

Koturbash included in his decision to approve the order that the court should check in with the Crown at each stage to verify that it still needs to be in place.

Brittain will be back in court on the four murder charges on June 26, where it is expected that Crown will provide disclosure to the defence.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Submitted by Cassidi Markus)
Snow flurries forecasted for the Okanagan this weekend

Arctic front expected to bring colder than average temperatures and snow

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Matthew Wedman was selected in the 2019 NHL entry draft by the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
Kelowna Rockets MVP inks deal with Charlotte Checkers

Matthew Wedman was the Kelowna Rockets 2019-20 MVP

(Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near house

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels more Vernon, Penticton, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders and Colin James postponed until 2021

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is conducting a citizen survey. (Black Press file photo)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen survey to conclude Nov. 1

2020 Citizen Survey results used to evaluate services

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

The Summerland Steam will play their first exhibition game of the season on Friday, Oct. 23. Unlike previous years, there will be no spectators allowed in the stands this year in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Brennan Phillips - Black Press)
Junior B hockey teams to play in empty arenas

Summerland Steam and other teams affected by decision to close facilities to fans

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Most Read