POLITICS

Wife appeals for husband's release on bail in Halifax chemicals case

03/13/2015 11:08 EDT | Updated 05/13/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - The estranged wife of a Halifax man accused of possessing dangerous chemicals and threatening police offered Friday to put up $10,000 bail and told a court the charges against him are "ridiculous."

Gosia Phillips testified in provincial court that she separated from her husband Chris Phillips after he was arrested on Jan. 21 in an Ottawa hotel, but even though she has a legal agreement prohibiting him from entering her home she is willing to put up his bail and act as a guarantor.

"I'm tired of having him in jail for charges that are in my mind ridiculous," she told his bail hearing.

"I don't think he belongs there. I think it's unethical, unlawful and improper."

Phillips is charged with uttering threats and possession of a weapon —the chemical osmium tetroxide — for a dangerous purpose.

Earlier Friday, RCMP Sgt. Lisa Stuart said Phillips's wife came to police on Jan. 19 and told them her husband's mental health was deteriorating and he was behaving strangely.

Phillips told investigators her husband had osmium tetroxide in eight vials and possibly possessed uranium and she was fearful the chemicals posed a threat to her children's safety, Stuart testified.

"She stated Mr. Phillips had bragged about the osmium tetroxide to friends. ... He wanted to display the osmium tetroxide on ice on the table of a child's birthday party so everyone could see," Stuart told court.

But Gosia Phillips said she only wanted police to remove the substances because her husband left without saying where he was going and she was nervous about them.

She said she believed he had a supply of chemicals because he was using them to extract precious metals for catalytic converters and that the osmium tetroxide was a rare "novelty" kind of chemical that he planned to give away to friends.

Later, Phillips said he used the chemicals to extract precious metals.

"That's not against the law," he added.

Osmium tetroxide, a toxic chemical, was found at 54 Lakeridge Ave. in a suburb of Halifax, court heard.

Phillips, 42, a U.S. citizen in Canada on a temporary visa, mouthed the words, "I love you," to his wife as she listened to the RCMP officer's testimony in court.

He said he was operating a chemicals business partly because he couldn't apply for work, despite holding degrees in medicine, law and business.

Phillips, who was briefly in the U.S. navy, testified that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but is receiving treatment.

Whatever conditions a judge places on his release, he said he would abide by them.

"Whatever it takes," he said. "I'm doing what I'm told."

Defence lawyers routinely request publication bans on bail hearings, which judges must grant. But the defence for Phillips told the court it wasn't seeking a publication ban in his application for bail nor would he seek one for any preliminary hearing. Judge Alanna Murphy told the court there would be no publication on the proceedings.

Murphy reserved a bail decision until Tuesday. Phillips has elected trial by judge alone.

Stuart told the bail hearing police attempted to contact Phillips when he drove from Halifax to the Ottawa hotel, adding that computer analysis of his laptop indicated he had opened emails from an officer asking him to report to police but did not respond.

Officers broke down Phillips's hotel room door on Jan. 21 when he wouldn't respond to calls and knocks on the door, she said.

Under cross-examination by the defence, Stuart said none of the chemicals found at Phillips's two residences in the Halifax area were illegal and no charges of improperly storing them were laid.

Police have said the chemicals, which were found at a cottage and shed, were filled with chemicals in various states of degradation. The discovery prompted evacuations in Halifax and the Ottawa hotel where Phillips was arrested.

Crown attorney Roland Levesque argued that Gosia Phillips is a poor choice as a guarantor because she is busy working as a doctor.

The long list of chemicals at several residences was also a concern for the Crown.

"This cache of dangerous chemicals has to be considered," he said, adding there is another issue because Phillips's visa expires Oct. 20.

Defence lawyer Mike Taylor said it is unlikely the federal government would require Phillips to leave the country if his trial isn't over.

He also questioned whether an email containing the alleged threatening comment against police will prove the Crown's case.

"It's far from clear he's even committed an offence," Taylor said.

He agreed with the judge that having a separated spouse as a guarantor is "not optimal," but there is no other alternative.

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