John Brittain, 68, being escorted into the Penticton courthouse in April. Brittain and his ex-wife, Katherine Brittain, have been named in a civil lawsuit by the daughter of a couple that were fatally shot. (Western News file photo)

Suspect’s ex-wife was ‘conspirator’ in fatal Penticton shooting spree, lawsuit claims

John Brittain and his ex-wife Katherine Brittain were named in a civil lawsuit

The daughter of a couple that was shot and killed in Penticton in April has filed a civil lawsuit against the alleged shooter and his ex-wife, claiming she was a “conspirator.”

Sarah Young, daughter of Susan and Barry Wonch who were killed in a shooting spree along with two others, is pursuing the family compensation act for her own benefit against alleged shooter John Brittain and his ex-wife Katherine Brittain.

John Brittain is facing four murder charges, allegedly shooting and killing his ex-wife’s neighbours — the Wonchs, Darlene Knippelberg and Rudi Winter on April 15. Katherine Brittain is not facing any criminal charges.

Winter was found fatally shot in a yard on Lakeview Street where neighbours said he was seen trimming a tree at a residence prior to the shooting, close to where John Brittain was residing. Not long after, the three others were shot and killed in the residential neighbourhood of Cornwall Drive — the same street that Winter and Katherine Brittain resided.

READ MORE: Four victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

RCMP previously reported that John Brittain walked into the detachment one hour after police first received a report of a possible shooting.

In the notice of claim, filed June 14, Young states that for an unknown period of time, prior to the alleged murder, John Brittain’s ex-wife “wrongfully and maliciously conspired with the defendant John Brittain to commit the murder by combining at different times for the purpose of assisting and encouraging each other in committing the murder.” As well, she claims that Katherine Brittain was counselling, aiding and abetting Brittain.

READ MORE: Preliminary inquiry dates set for John Brittain

There was no evidence in the court documents, filed at the Kelowna registry, to support the allegations made by Young. She is seeking punitive damages for loss of her parents, loss of support, inheritance, expenses and possible further losses that counsel may advise.

In a response to the civil claim Katherine Brittain stated that she has nothing to do with the deaths of the Wonchs and “had no idea that John Brittain would kill them, if he did.” The court document further states the defendant is not liable for events outside of her knowledge and control.

John Brittain also submitted a response denying all of the claims made by Young.

The four murder charges John Brittain is facing are currently before the court with the last appearance setting a preliminary inquiry for Jan. 27 to 31. Brittain is behind bars at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver and has been on a no-contact order with his ex-wife as Crown counsel has not determined if she will be called as a witness in the criminal proceedings.

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