POLITICS

Man charged in December attack on veteran now charged in 2007 triple homicide

02/20/2015 04:06 EST | Updated 04/21/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Ottawa Police Staff Sgt. Bruce Pirt believed it was only a matter of time.

But police acknowledged Friday that, were it not for an attack on an elderly Second World War veteran in December, they might never have found a suspect in a triple homicide that perplexed them for more than seven years.

A 59-year-old man accused in the attack on the vet is facing murder charges in the unsolved killings of three people in 2007.

Police confirmed Friday that they have charged Ian Bush, a resident of the Ottawa suburb of Orleans, in the deaths of retired tax court judge Alban Garon, his wife Raymonde and their neighbour, Marie-Claire Beniskos, all in their 70s.

"The investigation into the December home invasion prompted investigators to consider Bush as a suspect for the 2007 homicides," said acting police chief Jill Skinner.

"This is an important development in a case that has troubled the community, investigators and the family and friends for several years," she added.

A court appearance has been scheduled for Saturday morning.

Earlier Friday, Bush was found fit to stand trial in the Dec. 18 attack on Ernest Cote, a 101-year-old D-Day veteran.

He was also charged with an additional 11 weapons offences after a hunting rifle and shotgun were found at his residence.

Bush was charged in the Cote attack in December and underwent two back-to-back psychiatric assessments to determine his mental well-being.

While he was in custody, police amassed the evidence that prompted them to charge Bush in connection with the June 30, 2007 slayings, which had shocked Ottawa residents and stumped detectives for years.

"In the last few weeks, investigators have worked to establish evidence to warrant the homicide charges," Skinner said.

Staff Sgt. Pirt was part of the original team of investigators who probed the 2007 homicides.

He expressed relief Friday after charges were officially announced against Bush.

"I'm proud of everybody that put this together, from forensics to detectives to our partners in policing"he said. "I'm proud that we got this together today and got us to where we are."

Bush has opted for trial by judge and jury in the Cote case and a trial date is to be set on March 6.

In the meantime, Bush's lawyer, Geraldine Castle-Trudel, is calling for an inquiry into how the media was tipped off to information that linked her client to the 2007 homicides in advance of charges being laid.

Earlier in the week, she said it was clear police leaked the information, and she demanded to know why.

The leak turned the case into "a kind of free-for-all witch hunt and media circus," Castle-Trudel said Monday.

She refused to speak with reporters as she left court Friday.

Friends of the Garons, who didn't want their names published, said they were happy that Bush was found fit to stand trial for the attack on Cote.

"That's good news, so at least there's that," said one man. "But we're upset about the whole thing. We just want justice."

Police said they will continue looking at Bush as a potential suspect in other cold cases, although they wouldn't give any details.

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