Entering a stay of proceedings for a husband and wife found guilty of placing potentially explosive pressure-cooker devices outside the B.C. Legislature would be "extraordinary" but is necessary given the actions of undercover police, defence counsel said Friday as it closed its entrapment argument.
John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were found guilty by a jury last year of conspiring to murder persons unknown and making or possessing an explosive substance – in both cases for the benefit of or at the direction of a terrorist group. They were arrested on July 1, 2013.
Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody have argued they were victims of police entrapment. A hearing into that aspect of the case began last July, with closing arguments getting under way this week. The Crown is to begin its argument Monday.
Marilyn Sandford, Mr. Nuttall's lawyer, told B.C. Supreme Court on Friday that her client and his wife lacked money, weapons, and even a mode of transportation before they were approached by undercover RCMP officers.
"There was no plot. There was talk, and only talk," she said.
Ms. Sandford said the police operation – in which an undercover RCMP officer approached Mr. Nuttall and presented himself as a businessman with jihadist ties – was designed to entrap the couple, and did.
Ms. Korody's lawyer earlier told the court the couple was an easy target because they had few friends, were living on welfare, and were dependent on methadone. They were also recent converts to Islam, and Ms. Sandford said the undercover officers repeatedly pressured Mr. Nuttall to come up with a plan. She noted that he at times could be heard on police recordings expressing fear he and his wife would be killed.
Ms. Sandford said the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled the remedy in such entrapment cases is a stay of proceedings.
"That's a remedy, the significance of which can't be overstated. … Entering a stay of proceedings in a case of this nature, of charges of this nature, is an extraordinary remedy," she said. "…[But] it's a strong message as to the seriousness of entrapment."
Ms. Sandford acknowledged the case involves a crime "that in 2016 I would expect the public would put very near the top, if not at the top, of their list of the most disturbing and alarming and serious of offences."
But she said the RCMP undertook "an unprecedented operation in the manner in which it interacted with vulnerable targets and the manner in which it resulted in the manufacture of a crime."
Ms. Sandford has said the RCMP had been told by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Mr. Nuttall had tried to purchase potassium nitrate, though she said that information was not corroborated. Potassium nitrate can be used in explosives.
She said the RCMP could have used other techniques to investigate Mr. Nuttall but chose the undercover operation. She said the Mounties also do not appear to have given adequate consideration to Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody's vulnerabilities. She said both were highly susceptible, noting Mr. Nuttall's comments about a conspiracy involving chemtrails and Ms. Korody's mentions of an "alien cult."
Ms. Sandford said if the judge, Justice Catherine Bruce, does not find entrapment has been proven, the proceedings should still be stayed as an abuse of process due to alleged police violations of the law and the breach of Charter rights for Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody.
The Crown has previously said Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody made the choice to try to murder innocent people. After the guilty verdict last year, prosecutor Peter Eccles said anyone who thinks the accused would have been harmless if not for the intervention of undercover police should look at the evidence.
"In particular, take a look at the Inspire magazine with the instructions on how to put butcher knives on the front of your pickup truck before you run people down on a shaheed mission," he said at the time.
"Those were the sorts of things Mr. Nuttall thought of. He had a great many plans. The police ensured that those plans that put the public at risk were not pursued."