Mike Duffy's lawyer closed his case Tuesday by going after former prime minister Stephen Harper's "Scripture-spouting, self-righteous" ex-chief of staff Nigel Wright one last time, as the senator's lengthy criminal trial finally came to an end.
It is now up to Justice Charles Vaillancourt to decide on Mr. Duffy's guilt or innocence, and he is set to release his verdict on April 21 or 22.
Mr. Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. He has pleaded not guilty to all of them.
"The man has been through a tremendous ordeal," defence counsel Donald Bayne told the court. "He's been humiliated and ridiculed, and that will continue to go on. Few have ever been in his position."
In his closing remarks, Mr. Bayne took further aim at Mr. Wright and Chris Woodcock, another former member of the Prime Minister's Office under Mr. Harper, as he tried to salvage his client's reputation.
"It's surprising that the Crown chose to raise reliability and credibility in this trial, when it relies on such classically unreliable, untruthful, unbelievable people," the lawyer said. "I've been at this for 44 years. I haven't seen the likes of those two in my career."
Mr. Bayne was responding to the Crown's remarks on Monday that Mr. Duffy exaggerated or conjured up stories to advance his own interests at the trial.
"Trials are not credibility contests," he said.
Mr. Duffy's charges relate to housing and travel expenses he claimed as a senator between 2009 and 2012. Among those charges, three relate to his decision to accept $90,000 from Mr. Wright to repay those expenses – but Mr. Wright himself was never charged.
In his testimony last August, Mr. Wright cited the Bible to explain why he kept secret his decision to repay Mr. Duffy's expenses – a secret that was later revealed, and led to Mr. Wright's departure from the PMO.
The Crown tried to paint Mr. Duffy's decision to accept the money as his alone. But Mr. Bayne, reading from hundreds of e-mails submitted as evidence, repeatedly said the senator was forced by the PMO into a repayment scheme against his wishes.
In his final submissions, Mr. Bayne accused the prosecution of ignoring key parts of evidence, including Senate policies, in order to "pick threads to knit together a Crown case."
"We'll throw up 31 charges and hope the judge makes one or two of them stick," he told the court.
Mr. Duffy had no financial motive to commit fraud, Mr. Bayne said, and was "entitled" to claim his expenses just like every other parliamentarian – including a living allowance for his Ottawa home.
"It's one thing not to like the Senate rules … but don't criminally prosecute and seek to convict someone for living under them," Mr. Bayne said.
On Monday, the Crown focused a large part of its case on an alleged "slush fund" that Mr. Duffy set up with his friend, Gerald Donohue. It alleges Mr. Duffy funnelled $65,000 in Senate contract money to Mr. Donohue in order to avoid scrutiny from Senate officials, who would have rejected his expense claims for services such as a personal trainer or makeup.
But Mr. Bayne said senators had "wide latitude" on how they spent their office budgets, and pointed out that Mr. Duffy never received any kickbacks from the contracts.
In the end, he said, the prosecution has not proved its case against Mr. Duffy beyond a reasonable doubt.
"The Crown took a great deal of time to say you can't believe everything he says. You don't have to, to acquit him on this evidence," Mr. Bayne said. "He doesn't have to prove his innocence."