RCMP officers involved in a B.C. terrorism investigation committed criminal offences during the undercover sting – providing money, resources and expertise to a couple living off social assistance – a defence lawyer alleged in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.
John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were found guilty by a jury in June of last year of conspiring to murder persons unknown and making or possessing an explosive substance – in both cases for the benefit or at the direction of a terrorist group. They were arrested on July 1, 2013, after they placed pressure-cooker devices outside the B.C. Legislature.
They have argued they were entrapped by police and a hearing into that aspect of the case began in July. Monday marked the start of closing arguments.
Marilyn Sandford, Mr. Nuttall's lawyer, told the court "none of this would ever have happened" if not for the actions of undercover police.
"The RCMP committed criminal offences in the course of the undercover operation. The facts are that they provided Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody with transportation, accommodation, technical advice relating to planting explosive devices. They played a large role in constructing the devices," she said.
The Crown has not yet had an opportunity to respond. It has previously said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody chose to try to murder innocent people.
Ms. Sandford said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody – whose only source of income was welfare payments – were at times given money by the undercover operators. Whether the targets of the sting should receive financial incentives was a point of confusion for police, she said.
Ms. Sandford said paying the targets was flagged as an issue early in the investigation, but no clear action was taken.
"Paying money was part of, from an early stage, how the operation unfolded. So rather than there being some kind of considered plan at the outset, it appears that things suddenly transpired and money was paid. And then there were discussions and debates as to whether they should be doing what, in fact, they were already doing," she said.
Ms. Sandford said when the RCMP ultimately decided Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody should use their own money to build the devices, undercover police still bought them groceries and provided transport to spare the couple that expense. Ms. Sandford said an undercover officer also told Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody not to worry about paying their next month's rent, after they expressed concern about being able to do so.
"If you relieve future financial obligations and if you relieve the need to buy food, it amounts, in effect, to the same thing as handing them cash and saying, 'Here, go buy a pressure-cooker,'" she said. "There is no difference."
Ms. Sandford is expected to continue her argument Tuesday. Closing arguments are scheduled to run for two weeks.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Sandford told the court undercover police also offered Mr. Nuttall flawed spiritual guidance. She said police took it upon themselves to provide the guidance and did so in a way that dismissed the concerns her client repeatedly raised over the morality of committing violence in the name of Islam.
"It's absolutely clear they wanted these concerns and qualms to be put aside," she said. "That is not only inducement but a highly, highly egregious form of inducement to spiritually vulnerable targets." Ms. Sandford pointed to numerous instances throughout the investigation in which she said undercover officers encouraged Mr. Nuttall to direct questions regarding Islam to them, and disparaged the authority of mainstream Muslim scholars and imams. She pointed to earlier testimony from a religious expert who described elements of Islam being promoted to Mr. Nuttall by officers as flawed.
With a report from the Canadian Press