VANCOUVER - Jurors at a British Columbia trial have been asked to curb their sympathies when deciding the fate of a husband and wife accused of plotting to blow up the provincial legislature.
Crown lawyer Peter Eccles said a life of hardship for John Nuttall and Amanda Korody — as recovering heroin addicts living on welfare — doesn't make them any less guilty of planning a terrorist act.
The couple was arrested on July 1, 2013, and charged with plotting to detonate homemade pressure-cooker explosives amid Canada Day crowds gathered at the legislature in Victoria.
"When you feel sympathy for the accused remember who and what they were and what they intended to do," Eccles told the jury during his closing submissions on Thursday.
"They had a difficult life, yes," he said. "But they wanted to murder innocent people for a political reason. And they were committed to it."
The B.C. Supreme Court jury was shown more than 100 hundred hours of video and audio surveillance collected as part of an elaborate RCMP sting.
Eccles warned the jury not to consider the couple as inept, despite what he described as the sometimes comic nature of their antics.
"Neither of them are stupid. Neither of them are illiterate. Neither of them are incapable of thought. Neither of them are incapable of thinking things out from start to finish," he said.
Eccles said Korody, the seemingly timid and submissive wife who had also converted to Islam, was anything but meek in private and described her as leading from the rear.
"She's the one who thinks, 'Well, if we can't get ball bearings (for the bombs) let's add marbles for shrapnel,'" he said. "That's a bit chilling.
"Mr. Nuttall is talkative, absent-minded, sometimes a bit scatterbrained, a terrible shopper and a terrorist," Eccles said. "Terrible shoppers can kill, too."
Nuttall and Korody have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit murder and of possessing and planting explosives, all of which the Crown alleges they did on behalf of a terrorist organization made up of themselves.
In video played earlier in court, Nuttall told Korody they were "al-Qaida Canada" — a sleeper cell that had been woken behind enemy lines to wage war on behalf of the Muslim world.
The Crown concluded its final submissions with a 45-minute compilation of what it considered the best video and audio evidence shown throughout the four-month trial.
The jury watched as Nuttall and Korody appeared to hatch the alleged bomb plot, build the devices and eventually plant them on the legislature grounds on the morning of Canada Day 2013.
The highlight reel closed with video of an actual pressure-cooker explosion rip through a surrounding ring of plywood boards in a staged detonation filmed by police.
In her instructions to the jury, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce warned them to be cautious when considering the Crown's "dramatic ending."
"This trial is not a drama. It is a real-life situation in which the guilt or the innocence of these two people are in your hands," she said. "You must put aside the drama and focus on the evidence that you saw and you heard in this trial."
Bruce will continue her instructions on Friday, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations as early as Saturday afternoon.
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