Ottawa Citizen

‘My blood, some murder’: Man fuzzy on why he was called to testify


The triple-murder trial of Ian Bush took a strange twist on Friday when the jury heard that DNA evidence linked another man to the bloody crime scene.

Police had found a partial DNA profile in their sweep of the Riverside Drive condo where retired tax judge Alban Garon, his wife Raymonde, and friend Marie-Claire Beniskos, were bound, beaten and suffocated in June 2007.

Antony Thavaratna­m, 57, never set foot in Ottawa until 2009, some two years after the killings.

The Toronto warehouse shipper, who has been ruled out as a suspect, was called to the stand on Friday.

It was a bit of work for him to get to the Elgin Street courthouse. He finished his night shift at 12:45 a.m., went home to change his clothes so he could get to his paper routes (Toronto Sun and Toronto Star), then drove to Ottawa but not before getting lost along the way.

Under examinatio­n-in-chief by assistant Crown attorney Tim Wightman, Thavaratna­m said he didn’t recognize Bush (seated in the prisoner’s box) and when shown photos, said he didn’t know the victims and had never been to their home.

Under cross-examinatio­n by defence lawyer Geraldine CastleTrud­el, the witness was asked if he knew why he was called to court.

“My blood, some murder or something,” he testified.

The lawyer then suggested he must have been shocked to get a call from a homicide detective.

“Not really shocked. It’s impossible anyway. I didn’t do anything. I work and sleep, that’s my life,” said Thavaratna­m, who said he works 364 days a year.

“You’ve never lost your blood in an apartment in Ottawa?” the lawyer asked in court. “No,” he replied. Thavaratna­m was ruled out as a suspect after police concluded there was a low probabilit­y the partial DNA profile was a good match. He was also interviewe­d by police.

At the trial on Friday, the jury also heard about an “arrogant and insulting ” letter that Bush, now 61, sent to the retired judge, in which he summoned him to his home for a bizarre hearing. The faxed letter, first reported in the Citizen in 2015, summoned Garon to appear at an address in Orléans — Bush’s home — to review a decision that dismissed his income-tax appeal.

The prosecutio­n theory is that Bush — enraged over a bitter tax feud — targeted Garon, the former chief justice of Canada’s tax court. The judge, according to prosecutor­s, was the “focal point of his rage” and that his wife, also 77, and Beniskos, 78, were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

After incriminat­ing DNA evidence linked Bush to the killings in 2015, police searched his home and seized a tool kit for murder, which included duct-tape, rubber gloves, a sawed-off rifle, ammunition, and plastic bags (the ones with suffocatio­n warnings). Ottawa police also found his handwritte­n journal, which contained the ramblings of a man who wrote that tax collectors were the “lowest form of humanity” and likened them to extortioni­sts.

In a key admission earlier this week, Bush’s defence team said that a hair root found at the crime scene is in fact his.

The trial continues Monday.

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