VANCOUVER – Illegal police tactics during an undercover operation that led a couple to be found guilty of terrorism-related offences endanger public rights, shock the conscience of Canadians and must be strongly condemned, says a statement of defence filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
John Nuttall and his common-law wife Amanda Korody were convicted last year, but the convictions are on hold while their lawyers argue that the RCMP entrapped their clients to plant what they believed were pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. legislature.
Nuttall’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, told the court Tuesday that the Mounties used deceit and tricks at virtually every stage of an elaborate sting.
The law is designed to capture people on the periphery of terrorist action but not directly involved in an offence.
Sandford said police aided and abetted terrorist activity by helping the couple design, construct and transport the homemade explosives.
“It matters not that the RCMP knew the devices would not explode,” she said. “The RCMP knowingly facilitated terrorist activity.”
Nuttall and Karody were arrested in July 2013 after an undercover operation that began five months earlier.
Sandford criticized what she called a lack of oversight on the operation, suggesting it would not have continued for as long had it been properly communicated to RCMP superiors in Ottawa.
“Clearly, there is something inherently problematic about (police) setting up a pretend terrorist group,” she said. “All of this ought to have been carefully considered.”
The sting went from gathering intelligence about Nuttall, whose outspoken views on radical Islam had already flagged him to police, to an operation designed to see whether undercover operators could induce him to commit terrorist acts, Sandford said.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with targeting (a suspect) … based on these facts. But it’s the nature of the operation and the direction it took that became problematic,” she said.
“Once their investigations had not uncovered anything as far as evidence of actual criminal activity they couldn’t then leapfrog into providing the opportunity. And that’s exactly what happened.”
The statement of defence said Nuttall and Korody were promises new lives, future work, care for their cat, payment of debt and assistance going through drug withdrawal.
The lonely and isolated pair were misled about basic tenets of their new faith and their fears were stoked by suggestions that powerful terrorist associates were keeping tabs on them, the statement said.
Closing arguments are scheduled to run until the end of next week and the Crown is expected to start making its final case on Thursday.