GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL — Gilbert Donald Budgell walked into provincial court in Grand Falls-Windsor this morning with a smile on his face.
The court docket indicated that a five-day preliminary inquiry was set to get underway, with the 53-year-old Botwood man facing charges of second degree-murder and a firearms charge related to an incident in 2016. At the time Budgell, the homeowner, was faced with a home invasion situation that resulted in the death of one of the two intruders.
Budgell made a brief appearance in court in Grand Falls-Windsor Thursday where Crown attorney Karen O’Reilly notified the court of the decision to withdraw the charges against Budgell.
"What we've determined is that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction, that we wouldn't be able to prove that it wasn't self defence," O’Reilly told media following the court proceeding.
“From my clients’ perspective, he’s extremely pleased and happy to see that the charges have been withdrawn,” said Budgell’s attorney, Bob Buckingham. “He’s been under this yoke for a year and a half now.
“It’s been a stressful and difficult time and he’s glad to get on with his life.”
The deceased was a known friend to Budgell. Buckingham said his client was, “extremely saddened at the persons death, but they weren’t invited in, they came in and they invaded his house that night.”
Buckingham noted Budgell has expressed remorse over the incident.
“He did not understand why a person who was a friend had come into his house and he wished things had turned out much more differently,” Buckingham said. “He acted that night as I say out of fear of people invading his house who were masked; he’s absolutely totally and completely upset and distraught as to what happened to this person.”
Buckingham said the deceased person died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
Budgell was escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs, rather than walking out through the doors on his own. He is currently incarcerated on another conviction with respect to a drug charge, unrelated to the charges that were withdrawn on Oct. 12, Buckingham told reporters. “This was the big thing on his shoulders,” the lawyer said. “If found guilty with respect to this matter, he could have been facing a significant amount of time in prison and it’s been weighing heavily on him.”
The firearm related to the incident was a rifle, according to O’Reilly, which Budgell was legally allowed to have in his possession.