The couple who planted pressure cooker bombs on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day 2013 is free to go, after the BC Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that stayed proceedings against them and said police had “pushed” the pair to commit the crime.
In a stinging decision on Wednesday, Justice Elizabeth Bennett said the RCMP “did everything necessary to facilitate” John Nuttall and Amanda Korody’s plans when they provided them with explosive material they could not have gotten on their own.
Bennett said police “went far beyond investigating” when they “manufactured” the bomb plot.
“I therefore agree… that the overall conduct of this investigation was a travesty of justice,” Bennett wrote in a 142-page decision.
The decision upheld part of a 2016 ruling from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce that stayed proceedings against Nuttall and Korody, after they accused the RCMP of entrapment. Crown counsel appealed the stay earlier this year.
Nuttall and Korody, who lived in Surrey, first came to the authorities’ attention on suspicions of terrorism in 2012. Nuttall had a long unrelated rap sheet of assault, kidnapping and robbery convictions. He also had a drug dependency and mental health issues.
The two had recently converted to Islam, and Nuttall was known in the community for “espousing violent jihadist views.”
In early 2013, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service told police Nuttall was a threat to national security and that he had tried to buy materials to make explosives, although investigators were unable to corroborate the claim.
RCMP began an undercover sting to determine if Nuttall and Korody were a threat. Numerous officers played the part of agents in a terrorist investigation.
As soon as Nuttall expressed interest in jihad after seeing a Qur’an in the back seat of an officer’s car, police began exploring terror plots with the couple to see whether they would pursue one on their own.
Eventually, the police, Nuttall and Korody settled on pressure cooker bombs targeting the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day 2013.
With help from RCMP officers, the couple prepared the bombs and dropped them off on the lawn of the legislature. Police provided the explosive C-4, as well as fake detonators.
The bombs did not go off and Nuttall and Korody were arrested shortly after and were eventually convicted of conspiracy, possessing an explosive substance, and placing an explosive in a public place on behalf of a terror group in 2015.
In her ruling Wednesday, Bennett agreed with Bruce’s decision that the RCMP’s conduct was an “abuse of process.”
Bennett said police frequently infiltrate terrorist groups as part of their investigations, but they cannot do whatever they want to investigate a crime.
The RCMP eventually knew the couple had little to no ability to commit an act of terror, she said, and only carried out the bomb plot after police “pushed and pushed and pushed” them.
Bennett did not agree with two parts of the lower court ruling. She said police did have “reasonable suspicion” to investigate given Nuttall’s extremist views and past criminal history, and that an average person would not have done what Nuttall and Korody did, as police gave them 36 opportunities to back out.
“The ruling upheld our views…. that this was entrapment and police-manufactured crime,” Nuttall’s lawyer Marilyn Sandford said. “A court has drawn a line that these types of American-style sting operations are not going to be tolerated here.”
Korody’s lawyer, Scott Wright, said the couple were “very relieved” and “hoping to move on with life as much as possible.”
Their next court date is scheduled for Jan. 7 for a Crown-requested peace bond.
Crown counsel said it would be “reviewing the decision.” They declined to comment further but has 60 days to appeal.