A husband and wife convicted of placing potentially explosive pressure-cooker devices outside the B.C. Legislature were an "easy target" for an aggressive undercover police operation because they were isolated, impoverished and vulnerable due to their dependence on methadone, a defence lawyer said Tuesday.
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 in July, with closing arguments beginning earlier this week.
Mark Jetté, Ms. Korody's lawyer, told the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that undercover RCMP officers set out to establish a rapport with the couple, and it was easily done.
"They know enough about these two, that they are socially isolated. …They know they're impoverished," he said. "…To that extent, it's an easy target for a sophisticated undercover operation."
Mr. Jetté said police also knew Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody, who had both been addicted to heroin, were dependent on methadone. He said there were times during the investigation when they could be seen consuming it, though only Ms. Korody had a prescription.
"They're basically chugging methadone from a bottle," he said.
Mr. Jetté is expected to continue his argument Wednesday, focusing on the couple's vulnerabilities.
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.
Marilyn Sandford, Mr. Nuttall's lawyer, alleged earlier this week that police committed criminal offences during the undercover operation, providing the couple with money, resources and technical assistance.
Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody's only source of income had been welfare payments. They had previously been homeless, but were living in a Surrey basement suite at the time of their arrest.
Tuesday, Ms. Sandford questioned whether the RCMP should have launched the elaborate operation – in which an undercover officer presented himself as a businessman with jihadist ties and approached Mr. Nuttall – at all.
She said the Mounties 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 when Mr. Nuttall first met the primary undercover officer, he expressed an interest in jihadist acts and admiration for those who carried them out. But she said Mr. Nuttall never gave any reason to believe he had taken concrete steps to commit such an act himself.
"As the scenarios unfolded commencing at the beginning of March 2013, we submit Mr. Nuttall made abundantly clear that he was not, in fact, involved in any terrorist activities or crimes," she said.
"The more time that went by, the clearer those facts became to the investigators, we say. But nonetheless, the undercover operation leapfrogged from gathering intelligence as to whether [Mr.] Nuttall was involved in such activities, to an operation designed to see whether operators could bring him to commit such activities."
Ms. Sandford said as the operation wore on, it became clear Mr. Nuttall was too "scattered" to focus on a plan himself.
Of Ms. Korody, Ms. Sandford said there was no suspicion at all she had previously been involved in terrorist activity.