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The Globe and Mail

After sensational charges of last summer, legislature bombs case proceeds quietly

John Nuttall, left, holding a Qur'an, and Amanda Korody, shown in this courtroom sketch, appear in provincial court in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

Felicity Don/The Globe and Mail

At a mid-December pre-trial hearing in the legislature bombings case, the gallery inside B.C. Supreme Court was nearly empty.

What a difference five months can make.

When the RCMP announced the arrests of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody and said the couple had planned to set off pressure-cooker bombs outside the B.C. legislature on Canada Day, the alleged plot was international news.

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In the days that followed, information about the couple slowly trickled out. Mr. Nuttall was a former musician with a rap sheet for petty crime and a history of drug use. Ms. Korody, 10 years his junior, worked at a convenience store near their basement-suite home in Surrey.

The pair had converted to Islam a few years earlier. No motivation for the alleged plot has been revealed, nor any information about the final moments leading up to their arrest, and the case has largely faded from public view.

At the December hearing, Ms. Korody entered the courtroom first. She was dressed in green prison sweats, with her hair in pigtails. She had a quick glance out at the gallery before taking her seat.

When Mr. Nuttall arrived and saw his co-accused, his face immediately lit up. Wearing red prison garb, with a shaved head and long beard, he whispered to her at several points during the hearing.

The evidence discussed in court that day is covered by a publication ban. The parties are due back in court in mid-January.

In an interview, Mark Jetté, Ms. Korody's lawyer, said the trial will be this year. He declined to discuss how his client was doing, but said to stay tuned to the case.

"There's a lot to learn. I think you'll find the case interesting when you get to actually hear the case," he said.

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Tom Morino, one of Mr. Nuttall's lawyers who frequently spoke with reporters after the arrests, did not return a call seeking comment.

Marilyn Sandford, who more recently joined Mr. Nuttall's defence team, declined to discuss the case.

Ms. Sandford was one of the lawyers who defended serial killer Robert Pickton. Mr. Jetté frequently serves as a special prosecutor and has also represented high-profile convicted drug trafficker Jarrod Bacon.

Mr. Morino represented Mr. Nuttall in a robbery case about a decade ago. Mr. Nuttall was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest after Mr. Morino argued his client was high on cocaine at the time of the offence, but had since weaned himself off illicit drugs.

Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody were arrested on Canada Day after a five-month investigation. The RCMP held its news conference on July 2.

The force has said the accused were "inspired by al-Qaeda ideology" and "self-radicalized." Although the pressure-cookers filled with rusted nails and metal nuts and washers were similar to the devices used in the Boston Marathon bombings, the RCMP has said there was no link. It has also said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody did not receive any support from abroad.

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A tip from this country's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, sparked the investigation. The RCMP has maintained the public was never in danger because it had intervened to ensure the bombs could not explode.

The arrests came as a surprise to friends of the accused. They said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody had been seen as thrill-seekers who loved rock and roll, although the couple had complained about the presence of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the year leading up to his arrest, Mr. Nuttall frequently posted vitriolic messages online in the defence of Islam.

In August, Mr. Morino said his client had been certified under the B.C. Mental Health Act and transferred to a psychiatric ward. The lawyer said the move raised "the spectre of NCRMD," the defence of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.

With a report from Brian Platt

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