06/06/2016 13:32 EDT | Updated 06/07/2017 01:12 EDT

Final arguments begin in B.C. terrorism trial with focus on 'spiritual guidance'

VANCOUVER — The lawyer for a man found guilty of plotting to bomb the British Columbia legislature says flawed spiritual guidance from undercover police officers lies at the heart of the entrapment case.

Closing arguments began in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday for a hearing examining if John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were manipulated into planting explosives on the legislature lawn during Canada Day in 2013.

Nuttall and Korody were arrested three years ago following an elaborate undercover police sting operation. Last June, a jury found the pair guilty of conspiring to commit a terrorism act.

Their convictions are on hold to give Nuttall and Korody's lawyers time to argue that their clients were entrapped by police into carrying out the bomb plot.

Nuttall's lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, told the court that police took it upon themselves to provide spiritual guidance and did so in a way that dismissed the concerns her client repeatedly raised over the morality of committing violence in the name of Islam.

"It's absolutely clear … they wanted these concerns and qualms to be put aside," Sandford told the court.

"That is not only inducement but a highly, highly egregious form of inducement to spiritually vulnerable targets."

Sandford pointed to numerous instances throughout the investigation and played in court when she said undercover officers encouraged Nuttall to direct questions regarding Islam to them and disparaged the authority of mainstream Muslim scholars and imams.

She referenced an entry from the primary undercover operator's log, dated mid-April 2013, which read: "We had a good discussion about religion and his big desire to become my disciple."

She pointed to earlier testimony from a religious expert who described elements of Islam being promoted to Nuttall by officers as flawed, and that the police appeared to be discouraging Nuttall from consulting with religious experts.

"The undercover operators did and were instructed to do precisely what it was that they ought not to have done," she said.

Sandford also raised concerns that police repeatedly told Nuttall his actions were ultimately predetermined by Allah and that he should listen to his heart and follow his feelings.

"This was a very dangerous message to send to a target who's expressing spiritual reservations about a spiritually motivated crime: to essentially say you don't have free will in the matter. So in other words, why waste time thinking about it; it's all been determined one way or the other," Sandford said.

"It was a strategy that had at its goal the directing of Mr. Nuttall away from proper religious inquiry."

Closing arguments for both defence and the Crown have been scheduled to wrap up within two weeks.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

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