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Christopher Phillips bragged about having chemicals, court hears

03/13/2015 07:49 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
Details are starting to emerge in the case of a man accused of possessing volatile chemicals that led to evacuations in Halifax and Ottawa.

Forty-two-year-old Christopher Phillips was back in court in Halifax for a bail hearing on Friday.

Although Crown attorney Roland Levesque asked the judge for publication ban, the judge decided against it because Phillips elected to be tried by judge alone.

On Friday, in an unusual move, court heard from Sgt. Lisa Ann Stuart, the team commander of the RCMP during the operation.

She said Gosia Phillips, Phillips's wife, went to police on Jan. 19. Gosia Phillips told police she was afraid her husband was storing chemicals unsafely and she was also worried about his deteriorating mental health, said Stuart.

Phillips bragged about chemicals, says officer

Stuart told the court Gosia Phillips said her husband bragged about chemicals to friends and said Phillips wanted to display osmium tetroxide on ice on a table at a child's birthday party.

Osmium is used in staining biological materials in microscopic research and in the making of drugs, because it is so reactive with molecules in the body.

When it comes into contact with air, it becomes osmium tetroxide — a toxic substance that can cause blindness.

In January, police searched three properties with links to Phillips and found a PVC pipe that, at first, appeared to be a bomb. The PVC pipe was labelled with the message, "This is not a bomb."

Also written on the pipe, in blue marker: "If you open this, you are a dumbass."

Police later confirmed the pipe was not a bomb, but it did contain a vial of osmium tetroxide. More vials of the same chemical, which was ordered from California, were discovered beside it.

Phillips was arrested in an Ottawa hotel on Jan. 21 after the building was evacuated.

Court heard that police tried to contact Phillips a number of times while he was driving from Halifax to Ottawa. Police say they were able to determine that Phillips opened their messages but didn't reply. 

He was later brought back to Halifax where he was charged with uttering threats and possession of a weapon — the chemical osmium tetroxide — for a dangerous purpose.

Chemicals filled Grand Desert cottage

Police have said the cottage and a shed that Phillips owned in the coastal community of Grand Desert were filled with chemicals in various states of degradation.

When searching the the cottage in Grand Desert, police discovered that Phillips had removed all of the chemicals from the original packaging. 

He labelled them with his own alpha-numeric code. 

Court heard Friday that it was extremely difficult for Health Canada chemists and an RCMP civilian chemist to determine what was dangerous and how to dispose of it. 

During a Feb. 5 court hearing, defence lawyer Mike Taylor said his client wasn't able to apply for bail because he didn't have a place to stay at that time.

Taylor said the accusation that Phillips threatened police was based on an email that was misconstrued and his client believes he had the chemicals for legitimate reasons.

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