Skip to main content

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are shown in a still image taken from RCMP undercover videThe Canadian Press

A husband and wife accused of a plot to bomb the B.C. legislature grounds on Canada Day were damaged by addiction, hindered by poverty and then manipulated by undercover RCMP officers, a court has heard.

Closing submissions in the terrorism trial of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody began Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court. Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody were arrested July 1, 2013, and accused of placing potentially explosive pressure-cooker devices outside the legislature in Victoria.

Marilyn Sandford, Mr. Nuttall's lawyer, told the jury her client feared he and his wife would be killed by the undercover officers – whom they believed to be powerful jihadis – if they backed out of the plot.

Ms. Sandford said the officers also offered Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody, recent converts to Islam who had at times been homeless, a new life away from the hardship they had endured.

"Fear was part of the picture," she said. "As for other motives, how about the motive to leave his life of addiction and poverty and failure and take those fake passports and start a new life in some other country where you jet away with your wife on a private plane that's been chartered for you? There's a motive for you."

The police investigation of Mr. Nuttall began in February, 2013, and Ms. Sandford took the court through the events leading to his arrest. Mr. Nuttall was first approached at a Surrey convenience store by an undercover officer who posed as an Arab businessman looking for his niece. Mr. Nuttall, shortly after, told the officer he had plans for jihad. However, he also claimed to be a hacker who could bring down the computer systems of the government of Israel.

Ms. Sandford said the undercover officers became increasingly frustrated as Mr. Nuttall, over a period of months, failed to progress on a specific plot. He suggested firing rockets at a military base, hijacking a train to demand the release of imprisoned Canadian Omar Khadr, attacking a nuclear submarine and sinking a ferry, among other things.

The lawyer said Mr. Nuttall was not interested in the pressure-cooker plot and was instead pushed into it by police. She said Mr. Nuttall's meeting on May 10, 2013, with the primary undercover officer, the apparent businessman, served as a microcosm for the entire investigation.

Ms. Sandford told the court the officer chastised Mr. Nuttall for continually talking about a train plot when it wasn't feasible – Mr. Nuttall had not realized there was no passenger train service in Victoria. She said the officer told Mr. Nuttall he had vouched for him with others and Mr. Nuttall was making him look bad. Mr. Nuttall said he needed spiritual guidance, was worried about going to hell and began to cry. Ms. Sandford said the officer told him they would take "baby steps" toward something more realistic.

The lawyer said Mr. Nuttall at times expressed concern about killing people and only agreed to the pressure-cooker plot after police "continually steered" him toward it. Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody worried about the short time frame, but the primary officer was scheduled for a vacation in July. Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody were heard on police recordings saying it was too late to back out, with Mr. Nuttall at one point telling his wife they would end up in "cement galoshes."

"Who wouldn't have such a fear if they were in John Nuttall's position, in his shoes? It's an entirely reasonable fear," Ms. Sandford said.

Ms. Sandford said claims from the officers that Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody could back out were not genuine, since they were usually accompanied by requests for a better plan. She said the officers sent a mixed message in their "manipulation of a man with lots of problems."

Mark Jetté, the lawyer for Ms. Korody, is expected to begin his closing submission Wednesday, with the Crown to follow.

The Crown has said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody branded themselves "al-Qaeda Canada" and attempted the attack to make Canadians think twice about sending soldiers to Muslim countries. The Crown at one point played a recording in which Mr. Nuttall said he hoped the attack would kill as many people as 9/11.

Ms. Sandford said Tuesday the couple's intention was to damage the government building, not kill people. She said Mr. Nuttall should be found not guilty.