Mother sensed ‘something wasn’t right’ in hours before TSN staffer was found shot dead

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Grace Gayle was starting dinner in anticipation of her son’s arrival home on Dec. 12, but he never made it.

“I wanted to make him something special that he likes because I knew he was coming home,” she said.

The meal of barbecue chicken wings and homemade potato wedges was left incomplete. So too was Jonathan Gayle-West’s routine drive home — cut short by bullets.

It was customary for the mother, who raised both her sons — Jonathan and his older brother Justin — in Richmond Hill before relocating to Oshawa a few years ago, to make everything from scratch, peeling the potatoes before briefly boiling and then frying them.

What was unusual this time around was that she waited for hours without even hearing word from her son about his whereabouts.

As relatives of the deceased TSN staffer prepare for his funeral Saturday, his mother and brother lament that they had no inkling anything had gone awry leading up to him being shot and killed behind the wheel of his Honda Civic while driving along Islington Ave.

By all accounts, Gayle-West was having a routine day before he became Toronto’s 93rd homicide victim in a brazen shooting along the busy city street.

Amplifying his relatives’ bewilderment is the revelation that he was returning from a private prayer session when he was killed.

His mother expected him to be home before 8 p.m.

“When he finished the session of prayer, the minister text me to say that your handsome son just left,” she said. That was shortly before 6 p.m., she estimates.

“He was a man of faith,” she said. “The Sunday before his death he went to church.”

Grace Gayle found it strange he didn’t respond when she inquired about his whereabouts, shortly after 7 p.m.

She proceeded on to bed and awoke from her sleep at 1 a.m., to find police at her doorstep.

“They said they had reason to believe he was shot,” she said. “I started screaming and hollering. I was shattered.”

The surreal experience has left a gaping hole filled with unanswered questions.

She had no suspicion of anything amiss that would have triggered the egregious act.

“Nothing that would have made someone take his life,” she said.

Gayle-West, of Oshawa, was pronounced dead at the scene, near Islington Ave. and St. Andrews Blvd. Police rushed to the scene at around 6 p.m., when gunshots rang out. He was found in the driver’s seat of his car, which had struck a tree.

Gayle-West was remembered by his former colleagues at Rogers Sportsnet and TSN, many of whom expressed their grief via social media, while others took time during regular broadcast of their shows to memorialize the endearing and beloved 29-year-old.

Gayle-West was a member of the production team at TSN where he worked with Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, BarDown, TSN 1050 and in the newsroom.

His older brother, Justin Gayle, 34, remains puzzled about what triggered the callous act of violence that snuffed out his brother’s life and his promising prospects along with it.

Justin doesn’t want to speculate as to what might have transpired.

“We know it’s going to come to the forefront soon,” Justin said.

“Nothing happened that made me feel his life was at risk,” he said. “We’re perplexed. He was literally coming from a Bible study.”

Gayle had moved into his mother’s home in the summer after splitting with his girlfriend.

In an attempt to “pickup the pieces” from the breakup, Gayle-West started scribbling in a journal, where he wrote Bible verses, later found by his brother, Justin said.

“I found all this stuff of a man picking himself back up,” he said. “He had a vision board looking towards the future.”

“With the kind of person he was and how he affected people, it’s just an unanswerable question right now,” he said.

Justin recalls his brother being enthralled by all things professional wrestling.

“He was big into that scene,” Justin said.

Above all, Gayle-West’s ambition was to be a sports journalist.

While completing a degree in communications at York University, he honed his skills volunteering at the local Rogers TV station.

“He started as an assistant setting up the mobile television production for Rogers TV and then he eventually appeared as a reporter for a magazine show,” Justin said.

It wasn’t long before sports network television came calling.

“He spent at few years at Rogers Sportsnet before making the move to TSN,” Justin noted.

Gayle-West was gearing up to take another shot at making the big jump from behind the scenes to being a sports anchor.

“He had tried a few years ago,” Justin said. “He was being groomed on how to be an on-air personality. It was his next step.”

A celebration of life service is slated for Calvary Baptist Church, 300 Rossland Rd. E., Oshawa on Saturday. Visitation will go from 10 a.m. until the funeral service at 11 a.m., with interment to follow at Mount Lawn Cemetery.

Jason Miller is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Reach him on email: jasonmiller@thestar.ca

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Government staffer named in Mark Norman document leak case suspended from job

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A junior procurement official named in the criminal case against the military’s former second-in-command has been suspended from his federal government position, a House of Commons committee has been told.

Matthew Matchett was identified in court documents filed by the lawyers defending Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who has been charged with a single count of breach of trust.

The revelation is the latest twist in the high-stakes prosecution of Norman, the former vice chief of the defence staff, who is accused by the RCMP of leaking cabinet secrets.

Les Linklater, an associate deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, told the Commons government operations committee late Thursday that Matchett has been suspended from his federal government job.

He said he was unable to state when it happened and refused to discuss the circumstances of Matchett’s suspension, including the reasons for it.

« I’m not at liberty to get into personnel management issues, » Linklater said when questioned by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley.

Les Linklater, a senior government official, disclosed the suspension of Mathew Matchett during a Commons committee on Thursday 0:54

Matchett has not been charged with any offence.

The Mounties acknowledged at the outset of their investigation into Norman that they were looking into more than one breach of secrecy linked to a cabinet committee meeting on shipbuilding early in the Liberal government’s mandate.

In asking the court last month to force the federal government to disclose documents, Norman’s lawyer Marie Henein claimed the federal police force had identified another source for the leak.

« The RCMP’s investigation discovered that a government employee, Matthew Matchett, gave a lobbyist then working for Davie the classified Memorandum to Cabinet (« MC ») and slide deck relating to the Liberal Government’s November 19, 2015 iAOR Cabinet committee meeting, » Henein wrote in an October court filing.

The Mounties refused to comment when asked about Matchett in October, saying that the investigation into the breaches of cabinet secrecy was ongoing.

In a subsequent court filing, Henein claimed that the Mounties had not yet interviewed Matchett.

Email exchanges released by the court this month suggest Matchett leaked a memorandum to cabinet and a slide presentation to an Ottawa lobbyist, Brian Mersereau, in the days leading up to the cabinet meeting in question.

At that meeting, the newly elected Liberal government chose to put a $668 million program to lease a supply ship for the navy on hold. Word of the decision immediately leaked to the media and cabinet eventually reversed course and allowed the project with the Davie Shipyard, in Levis, Que., to proceed.

Cabinet ministers were furious, however, and after an internal government investigation failed to determine the source, the RCMP were called in.

A detailed reference to Matchett was contained in over 700 pages of documents linked to Norman’s case and released by the court two weeks ago.

The documents include excerpts of emails and RCMP witness statements — records that have not been tested in court and may not be entered as evidence by the Crown.

In one email, Matchett allegedly tells Mersereau on Nov, 17, 2015, that he had « got everything — the motherload. »

Mersereau, of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, told the Mounties in an interview that a brown envelope with the cabinet documents appeared the next day at his downtown Ottawa office.

At the time, Matchett was working for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, but later moved on to a position at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

CBC News has reached out to Matchett on several occasions since his name appeared in the court documents and has not received a response.

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High level Ontario PC staffer leaves post, party confirms

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Another member of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has left his post, the party has confirmed.

John Sinclair left his job as the executive director of the PC Caucus Service Bureau.

“I can’t comment on personnel issues but I can confirm that John Sinclair is no longer with PC Caucus Services,” PC director of communications Jeff Silverstein said Thursday.

Earlier this year, Sinclair simultaneously served as deputy chief of staff to interim leader Vic Fedeli, along with his executive director position, after former Ontario PC president Rick Dykstra resigned following sexual assault allegations in January.

Sinclair’s departure makes this the third instance of a Ford’s staffer leaving this month. Last week, former cabinet minister Jim Wilson abruptly resigned over sexual misconduct allegations.

With files from Robert Benzie.

Premila D’Sa is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @premila_dsa

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