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Judge overturns guilty convictions of pair in BC terror plot case

Last Updated Jul 29, 2016 at 11:46 am PDT

(RCMP Handout)

The judge said the plot was "planned almost entirely by police"

The case dates back to an apparent plot that was said to take place on Canada Day 2013

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Surrey couple found guilty of multiple terrorism-related offences will walk free after a judge ruled police manipulated the pair into plotting to blow up the provincial legislature.

BC Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce says the RCMP entrapped John Nuttall and Amanda Korody through a months-long undercover sting leading up to the Canada Day bomb plot in 2013.

She went on to say the police manufactured a crime by instigating and skillfully engineering the very terrorist acts committed by the couple.

A jury found the pair guilty of three terrorism-related charges last year, but Bruce delayed registering the convictions at the request of defence lawyers, who wanted to argue that the Mounties entrapped their clients. The judge has ordered a stay of proceedings and her ruling means the jury’s guilty verdict will not appear on any criminal record and can’t be used against the couple in the future.

This is the first time in Canada the legal defence of entrapment has been successfully argued in a terrorism case — three previous instances all failed.

Reaction to the case

Maureen Smith is John Nuttall’s mother and she says the both her son and Korody are traumatized. “They need counselling, they need help. And the police were dirty, dirty crooks for committing these crimes against people, especially marginalized ones who are so vulnerable.”

She maintains the pair were not and are not radicalized. “John and Amanda never gave the cops any reason to be suspicious of them at all. To me, it was Stephen Harper and his Bill C-51 and they wanted to have an excuse to instill fear into the public.”

Smith also has a strong message to the undercover officers involved in the case. “I’d call them evil. I’d say, ‘You evil people. How dare you out innocent people through hell for more than three years?’ During the whole surveillance thing, they were terrified for their lives.”

Marilyn Sandford, Nuttall’s lawyer, calls this a stinging indictment of a police operation, that in her opinion, should have never happened. “Justice Bruce has nailed it in my view. She has made a host of findings of wrongdoing and things that just shouldn’t have happened and my client is very relieved at long last that we have this result.”

Some critics, including Crown Counsel, feel the pair are still capable of murder or random attacks. “As [the judge] said, ‘You have to look at the circumstances of this case.’ This was a case where the more time the police spent with it, the more it was apparent there was no risk and yet they then moved to manufacture a crime. I think she has addressed that concern very well,” adds Sandford.

Crown is indicating it may appeal and prosecutor Peter Eccles says despite the ruling, Nuttall is still considered dangerous. “Mr. Nuttall will always be a risk as far as I’m concerned given his background, his history and his reaction to stresses which, based on his life history, seems to induce violence. That doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a terrorist threat but he has a proven propensity to use violence. He is a radicalized individual and I understand the RCMP are currently taking steps to address any risk presented by Mr. Nuttall and Miss Korody’s release.”

In a statement, the BC RCMP says it “respects” Nuttall/Korody decision and that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is “reviewing” the case in relation to an appeal.