POLITICS

Undercover cops manipulated alleged B.C. bomb plotters: defence lawyer

05/26/2015 02:59 EDT | Updated 05/26/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - An unfocused and disorganized plan for a terrorist attack against the B.C. legislature allegedly masterminded by a husband-and-wife duo had no hope of success were it not for the support and guidance provided by undercover police, a B.C. court has heard.

John Nuttall's defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford began closing submissions to a B.C. Supreme Court jury on Tuesday, suggesting RCMP officers posing as terrorists manipulated her client and his wife into planting homemade pressure-cooker explosives on the legislature grounds on Canada Day 2013.

Nuttall and his wife, Amanda Korody, were damaged by poverty and stricken with drug addiction, said Sandford. The arrival of a key undercover officer feigning friendship injected meaning into their otherwise isolated lives, as well as money, nice clothes, spiritual guidance and attention, which all contributed to the pair feeling important and validated, she added.

She went on to remind the jury how Nuttall had said in covert video recordings that he feared for his and Korody's lives at the hands of their supposed new friends.

"Controlling relationships have as their hallmark strategic manipulations of love and fear," Sandford told attentive jury members.

"It's not inconsistent that John Nuttall loved and feared these people."

Nuttall and Korody have each pleaded not guilty to three terrorism-related charges: conspiring to commit murder, and possessing and planting explosives on behalf of a terrorist organization. They were arrested on July 1, 2013, as part of a months-long RCMP sting operation involving more than 240 officers, the court has heard.

Sandford finished her closing statements on Tuesday by asking the jury to find Nuttall not guilty of all charges.

She argued that — while video evidence shows Nuttall advocating for everything from destroying property to inciting World War III — when he agreed with Korody to bomb the legislature their intention was to damage the building and not to kill anyone.

Sandford also countered the allegation that Nuttall was acting on behalf of a terrorist organization, saying that his primary motive was "to leave his life of addiction and poverty and failure," with the promise of jetting away to a new life with his wife on a private plane using fake passports.

"This is a heroin addict we're talking about," said Sandford to the jury. "To someone living the life of John Nuttall think what that offer would have meant."

In earlier video evidence, Nuttall proposed a slew of fantastical ideas, including hijacking a nuclear submarine, firing rockets over the border at Seattle or taking a VIA Rail train hostage to demand the release of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

Sandford described the diagrams her client drew outlining his bomb-building aspirations as "a joke" and cited witness testimony from an undercover officer who described Nuttall's plans as "hokey and harebrained."

She pointed to repeated instances where the primary undercover officer would chastise Nuttall for failing to come up with a feasible attack plan.

Sandford accused the police of hypocrisy in telling Nuttall and Korody they could back out at any time, telling the jury that those assurances usually immediately followed an undercover officer expressing disappointment in Nuttall and berating him for his lack of progress in the plot.

"It's a mixed message with a purpose, members of the jury," Sandford said, raising her voice and looking directly at the jurors. "And the purpose is manipulation of a man with lots of problems."

Korody's lawyer Mark Jette is expected to begin his closing submissions on Wednesday.

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