Updated: Victim of Kentville shooting describes fear, pain of attack

Federal time for Murphy Lake man for June 2013 incident

Kirk Starratt kstarratt@kingscountynews.ca
Published on May 28, 2014

Kentville Police Const. Kevin Pick stands guard over 534 Park St. on June 14. The property in the town’s west end was secured after a shooting just after midnight. – Jennifer Hoegg, www.kingscountynews.ca

A Kentville man who was shot almost a year ago at his Park Street home said the attack   “began with a horrific ‘boom’ that echoed in the midnight air.

“I felt unbelievable pain in my face and mouth,” said George Woodworth as he read his victim impact statement May 28 in Kentville court

Tony Allan Nickerson, formerly of Murphy Lake, was sentenced to five years in custody on charges stemming from the June 14, 2013, shooting.

 “I’d like to apologize to all people involved,” Nickerson said when asked by Judge Claudine MacDonald prior to sentencing if he had anything to say. “I’m very remorseful.”

Woodworth said the shooting was a life-changing event.

“Blood was gushing out and the pain was unbearable,” he said while describing the first shot that struck him.

Woodworth said he staggered backwards and heard another “smashing boom” that hit near his heart. He said the shot collapsed his lung and shotgun shot narrowly missed his eye. He “fumbled” back to the house to call 911.

The Kentville man said he feared he would die without having a chance to say goodbye to his family. Woodworth said he was unable to speak due to the swelling and could only communicate using hand gestures and writing. His whole life changed and he was unable to work as a carpenter and roofer.

“My family was so scared to come to my house after, in fear of him returning,” Woodworth said.

Effects of the attack linger. Woodworth said he not only has 30 shotgun shots lodged in his body, but also suffers nightmares, anxiety attacks and depression

Text trouble

Nickerson was arrested about an hour after the shooting, which took place just after 12:30 a.m. outside the Park Street home.

The court heard Wednesday that the accused and his female partner were in bed when a text message come in on her phone. Nickerson saw it was from Woodworth, who he suspected was having an affair with Nickerson’s spouse.

Posing as the woman, Nickerson texted back and forth with Woodworth for about 50 minutes. Nickerson then retrieved a sawed-off shotgun from a locked case beneath his pool table containing other firearms and ammunition and drove to Kentville.

He lured Nickerson outside to a parking area and said, “Surprise, it’s me mother ******.”

 “Tony please, don’t do it, don’t do it,” Woodworth said, before Nickerson twice shot the other man: the first time in the face and the second time in the upper torso.


Nickerson’s sentencing

Crown attorney Jim Fyfe argued for a sentence between four and six years while public defender Ken Greer asked the court for a four-year sentence.

Greer said Nickerson intended to frighten the victim, not kill him, and thought he had fired over Woodworth’s head. He said Nickerson has been living lawfully in the community since his release last June and has complied with strict conditions. Greer said Nickerson “has taken concrete and constructive steps” to deal with his mental health issues. Greer said Nickerson was suffering from depression at the time of the offences.

Fyfe argued Nickerson had time to consider what he was doing before he lured Woodworth out of his house and shot him. Nickerson left the scene without knowing how seriously Woodworth was injured and, Fyfe said, the shotgun used was potentially lethal.

“It’s designed to kill and tear through flesh and that’s what it did,” Fyfe said.

The court heard from Fyfe and Greer that Nickerson’s pre-sentence report was “positive.”

Among the exhibits viewed by MacDonald prior to handing down the sentence was a series of photographs of Woodworth’s injuries.

MacDonald said she agreed Nickerson had plenty of time to consider his actions before he shot Woodworth. She told Nickerson that what he did endangered Woodworth’s life and, based on a pre-sentence report and letters Greer presented, was “out of character” for Nickerson.

“You could have come to your senses and you didn’t,” MacDonald told the accused.

She sentenced Nickerson to five years in custody for possessing a loaded, prohibited firearm without a licence or authorization; possessing a prohibited device, a sawed-off shotgun, for a purpose dangerous to the public peace; committing an aggravated assault by endangering the life of George Woodworth; and using a firearm, a 12-gauge shotgun, while committing the indictable offence of aggravated assault.

Nickerson pleaded guilty to the charges in March. 

The court also imposed a 15-year firearm prohibition against Nickerson and granted a DNA order. The court also granted a forfeiture order for offence-related items seized.

Nickerson entered not guilty pleas to charges of attempting to murder George Woodworth with a sawed-off shotgun and possessing firearms without a licence. The Crown offered no further evidence on these charged and they were dismissed.