By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER: Former Surrey residents John Nuttall and Amanda Korody have had their terrorism convictions overturned for planting inert pressure cooker bombs on the B.C. Legislature grounds.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce on Friday confirmed defence arguments the pair were entrapped by a sophisticated, five month RCMP undercover operation involving more than 240 officers.
Justice Bruce said the sting was an abuse of process and overturned last year’s guilty verdicts delivered by a jury.
She concluded that the couple were manipulated into planting devices during 2013 Canada Day celebrations with the hope of slaughtering as many celebrants and first responders as possible.
Nuttall, 41, sat in court looking pensive before the hearing and gave his mother Maureen Smith a wan smile.
Wearing a black head scarf and a baggy dark green track suit, the 33-year-old Korody sat outside the prisoner’s dock on a swivel chair taking notes.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is considering an appeal and believes Nuttall continues to pose a danger to the public, a disappointed Crown Peter Eccles said.
But that will take time because the judgment is nearly 200 pages long and must be analyzed.
Noting it was the first finding of entrapment in a terrorism case to his knowledge, he added that the judgment may pose concerns for police and national security organizations going forward in the fight against terrorism.
“I’m just ecstatic,” Nuttall’s mother Maureen Smith told reporters.
Defence lawyers were equally pleased with the decision.
“I think the justice nailed it,” said Vancouver lawyer Marilyn Sandford.
She said both defendants would be released later in the day although prosecutors were seeking a peace bond over their public safety concerns.
Although it was a terrorism trial, security was light and the proceedings were not conducted in one of the downtown Law Courts’ high security court rooms.
Justice Bruce read a 45-minute summary of the 97,000-word decision that was scathing in terms of describing police misconduct as so egregious it violated the criminal code.
“They were marginalized people with no skill,” the judge said. “Their role in carrying out the plan was minuscule.
“This was a clear case of police manufactured crime….The defendants were the foot soldiers while the undercover officer was the leader of the group….the role police played is even more offensive because they violated the criminal code.”
The police sting was triggered by warnings from the Canadian Security and Intelligence service but the RCMP conduct was so beyond the pale, she added, that allowing the convictions to stand would tarnish the administration of justice.
“The world has enough terrorists, we do not need the police to create more,” Justice Bruce said.
“The police decided they had to aggressively engineer and plan for Nuttall and Korody and make them think it was their own….To say they were unsophisticated is generous.”
The naïve, vulnerable couple posed no imminent threat, she added.
Nuttall’s mother said both would require counselling and care on their release to return to normal life given the trauma they have been through during the last three years of prosecution and pre-trial custody.