POLITICS

Officer says no specific threat in emails by man accused in chemicals case

06/04/2015 12:47 EDT | Updated 06/04/2016 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - The third day in the trial of a man accused of stockpiling chemicals in Nova Scotia concluded with a police officer testifying that he perceived no specific threats in emails written by Christopher Phillips.

Sgt. David Boon of the Halifax Regional Police testified at Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday that he investigated a shed on Phillips's property in January, finding a variety of chemicals and what he perceived to be a pipe bomb.

But under questioning from defence lawyer Mike Taylor, Boon confirmed that when he reviewed emails shared with police by Phillips's wife, he found them to be rambling and lacking a specific plan to harm anyone.

Phillips has pleaded not guilty to threatening police officers and possessing a weapon - osmium tetroxide - for a dangerous purpose.

Earlier in the day, Gosia Phillips testified that her husband had never spoken of using osmium tetroxide as a weapon or expressed a desire to harm police.

She said her husband kept a variety of chemicals on hand for research and was particularly interested in his supply of osmium tetroxide.

"Chris talked a lot about chemicals. This is his hobby," she said.

Phillips said she asked her husband to keep the substance off their property because she was afraid her children would come in contact with it.

"I said 'get rid of it right away. I don't want it around here,'" she said.

Phillips told the court that her husband assured her in an email that he had incinerated the substance.

"It was painful for me to watch that much osmium tetroxide go up in smoke," he said in an email to his wife presented in court.

But she says she went to police on Jan. 19 when a contractor doing renovations for the family said he found the substance in an unlocked shed after her husband had left town.

"I wanted it removed. I was hoping the police could help do that," she said.

The complaint prompted evacuations in two Halifax-area communities where chemicals were found, and a search for Christopher Phillips that ended with his arrest in an Ottawa hotel on Jan. 21.

When asked about the state of her husband's mental health, Gosia Phillips said she was concerned about it and had arranged for him to see a psychiatrist.

"I had talked about separating and he didn't take that very well," she said.

"He asked me to just be calm while he gets through this tough period."

Outside the court, crown prosecutor Karen Quigley told reporters that mental health issues add complexity to criminal cases.

"It's complex not only within the family but in the community, and the law itself in the way you interpret it has an additional layer of complexity," she said.

The trial continues Friday.