Judge tosses out jury ver­dict in ter­ror trial

B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that two peo­ple were entrapped in po­lice-man­u­fac­tured crime

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - GEORDON OMAND

Two peo­ple found guilty of ter­ror charges will walk free af­ter a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled they were entrapped by the RCMP in a po­lice-man­u­fac­tured crime.

Jus­tice Catherine Bruce said po­lice in­sti­gated and skil­fully en­gi­neered the very ter­ror­ist acts com­mit­ted by John Nut­tall and Amanda Korody, who be­lieved they were plant­ing pres­sure-cooker bombs that would blow up at the leg­is­la­ture on Canada Day in 2013.

“The world has enough ter­ror­ists. We do not need the po­lice to cre­ate more out of marginal­ized peo­ple,” Bruce said in a land­mark rul­ing Fri­day. “The de­fen­dants were the foot sol­diers, but the un­der­cover of­fi­cer was the leader of the group,” she said. “With­out the po­lice it would have been im­pos­si­ble for the de­fen­dants to carry out the pres­sure-cooker plan.”

Bruce said RCMP of­fi­cers over­stepped their au­thor­ity dur­ing a months-long, un­der­cover sting and their ac­tions were egre­gious.

“The po­lice de­cided they had to ag­gres­sively en­gi­neer and plan for Nut­tall and Korody and make them think it was their own,” she said.

“To say they were un­so­phis­ti­cated is gen­er­ous,” she said, adding there was no im­mi­nent threat to the pub­lic from a pair who demon­strated they were not in­tel­li­gent but naive.

A jury found Nut­tall and Korody guilty in 2015 of three ter­ror­ism-re­lated charges, but Bruce de­layed reg­is­ter­ing the con­vic­tions at the re­quest of de­fence lawyers, who wanted to ar­gue the RCMP had entrapped their clients.

An en­trap­ment find­ing means Bruce will is­sue a stay of pro­ceed­ings, which throws out the jury’s guilty ver­dict.

It won’t ap­pear on any crim­i­nal record and can’t be used against the cou­ple in the fu­ture. Had they been con­victed, Nut­tall and Korody would have a max­i­mum sen­tence of life in pri­son.

A stay of pro­ceed­ings has the same end re­sult but is dif­fer­ent than an ac­quit­tal, which is a find­ing of not guilty.

Nut­tall and Korody’s lawyers ar­gued their clients would not have planted the in­ert bombs were it not for the in­volve­ment of the RCMP.

De­fence lawyers high­lighted in­stances where un­der­cover of­fi­cers en­cour­aged the cou­ple to fol­low a quicker timeline or to opt for a more re­al­is­tic ter­ror­ist plot and aban­don ear­lier, less fea­si­ble plans.

Both Nut­tall and Korody were es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to ma­nip­u­la­tion, their lawyers said, de­scrib­ing their clients as poor, methadone-de­pen­dent, former drug ad­dicts liv­ing in rel­a­tive iso­la­tion.

The Crown al­leged the cou­ple be­lieved they were work­ing with au­then­tic, ter­ror­ist con­nec­tions, played by un­der­cover of­fi­cers, in or­der to ac­cess deadly ex­plo­sives and carry out an at­tack.

Hours of covert au­dio and video record­ings of Nut­tall and Korody were played dur­ing the ear­lier trial, in­clud­ing one that showed the pair film­ing a ji­hadist video they in­tended to re­lease af­ter the at­tack. Through­out the sur­veil­lance, Nut­tall said his mo­ti­va­tion for the at­tack was to avenge Canada’s treat­ment of Mus­lims in the Mid­dle East.

DAR­RYL DYCK, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

John Nut­tall, right, and Amanda Korody be­lieved they were plant­ing pres­sure-cooker bombs.

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