POLITICS

Phillips' past includes problems with alcohol and painkillers, jail time

01/22/2015 03:07 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - The man facing criminal charges after the discovery of a hazardous chemicals cache in Halifax was diagnosed in 2008 with a mood disorder, an addiction to painkillers, an alcohol problem and narcissistic tendencies, court documents show.

The April 2008 report from a Texas psychiatric hospital is among reams of U.S. court documents that also reveal Christopher Phillips once did a short stint in jail and took methadone to ease the pain of a crippling injury to his feet — something that made it difficult to stand for any length of time, even after seven surgeries.

Ottawa police arrested Phillips, 42, on the sixth floor of an east-end hotel Wednesday as part of an investigation linked to the evacuation of two areas in Halifax where police found a large quantity of mysterious chemicals — some of which they've described as "volatile" and "dangerous."

Phillips was charged Thursday with uttering threats and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. A court document alleges the offences took place between Boxing Day and Wednesday in the Halifax suburb of Cole Harbour.

He was flown to Halifax on Thursday. It was not immediately clear when he would appear in court to face the allegations.

Documents from his various U.S. court cases fill in some of the blanks surrounding Phillips' past, particularly when it comes to his medical history.

Phillips suffered an undisclosed "traumatic injury" to his feet while serving in the U.S. navy, which granted him a medical discharge, say court documents he filed in Washington state in 2011 as part of a lawsuit against a former colleague.

"Phillips is rated as 100 per cent disabled by the military due to a feet condition associated with significant pain," says the document, which Phillips himself wrote.

"Phillips also receives additional disability for loss of use of both feet due to pain."

Separate documents filed as part of his bankruptcy case show he received a monthly military disability payment of $3,145 — which amounted to $87,244 between 2006 and the first four months of 2008.

He chose to become an ophthalmologist, a profession that "does not require Phillips to be on his feet for extensive periods and allows Phillips to examine patients and perform surgery while sitting down," one of the court documents says.

"Phillips' injury ultimately required numerous surgeries to fuse major joints in both feet and resulted in chronic pain," it adds. He had seven surgeries between 1993 and 1995.

He was prescribed methadone for the pain in his feet. He also suffered two gastrointestinal bleeds from "chronically" taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the court document says.

Nearly seven years ago, Phillips was admitted to the Menninger Clinic in Houston. His discharge papers show he was diagnosed in April 2008 with a "substance-induced mood disorder"; "physiologic opiate dependence"; "alcohol abuse"; and "narcissistic personality traits."

The clinic rated as "severe" Phillips' problems with work, his finances, his medical issues and his relationship.

He was guarded during group therapy sessions, according to the discharge papers, fearful that anything he revealed to the other patients would be used against him. He eventually grew angry and resentful toward clinic staff, the documents say.

During his one-on-one sessions with a therapist, however, Phillips acknowledged that "partying with friends until a few hours prior to work, working to the point of exhaustion and drinking alcohol while on methadone" were some of his bad habits, according to the discharge papers.

The clinic recommended he attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and abstain from alcohol, opiates and other drugs.

Phillips had a brush with the law in 2011 when police were called to his home in Renton, Wash. He was charged with providing alcohol to minors, breach of peace and making a false statement to police, and he spent 10 days in the Renton Municipal Jail.

Phillips said the jail time "severely damaged" his relationship with his family — which includes his wife, Gosia, and the couple's young daughter.

He had previously been married to Shannon Miller, a gymnast who was part of the U.S. squad that won the team gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. That marriage — which Miller has called "a painful experience" — lasted seven years before ending in a messy divorce.

Phillips also filed for bankruptcy on July 2, 2008. Court documents show he claimed assets of $962,109 and liabilities of nearly $4.7 million.

Follow @steve_rennie on Twitter