KELOWNA – A couple who the B.C. Supreme Court says were coerced by RCMP into formulating a plan to plant three pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day in 2013 spent four days in Kelowna meeting with undercover police.
A jury found John Nuttall and his common-law spouse Amanda Korody guilty of terror charges in 2015 but a July 29 B.C. Supreme Court ruling says the plot would never have happened if it weren’t for the constant, dogged attempts by police to guide them and keep them on track.
In a ruling released July 29, Justice Catherine Bruce outlines the details of Project Souvenir, which involved an undercover officer pretending to be a learned Muslim searching for operatives to carry out jihad in B.C.
Bruce said Mounties involved in a months-long sting launched in early 2013 knowingly exploited Nuttall and Korody's vulnerabilities to induce them to commit an offence.
She described the pair as marginalized, socially isolated, former heroin addicts dependent on methadone and welfare to subsist and said they were "all talk and no action."
Nuttall and Korody were recent converts to Islam. Their trial heard Nuttall say in a recording that he wanted to kill and maim countless people during Canada Day festivities in retaliation for Canada's role in the mistreatment of Muslims in Afghanistan and other countries.
Four months into the investigation RCMP paid to move the couple to Kelowna where they were set up in a hotel room with what they were told was a secure internet connection.
Nuttall, who was often intoxicated or high on marijuana, talked of grandiose plans that involved rockets and hijacking a train as well as a nuclear submarine as a way to get prisoners freed from Guantanamo Bay.
The undercover officer, who had become something of a spiritual advisor to Nuttall, had to repeatedly focus him on tasks, and ultimately convinced him to plant dummy pressure cooker bombs in a Canada Day attack in Victoria.
“In my view, Officer A could not have done more to direct Mr. Nuttall in regard to a plan to do jihad during the Kelowna scenario. He led Mr. Nuttall to believe that the only feasible plan was one involving the pressure cooker devices,” Justice Bruce writes in her decision. “Even when Mr. Nuttall said he did not want to do the pressure cookers, Officer A continued to talk about them as the feasible plan versus the unrealistic rocket plan.”
Still, despite the constant help from police, Nuttall spent most of his time smoking marijuana and playing games on his computer.
“Officer A tried to shame the defendants into focusing on their jihadist plans by chastising them about the waste of time and money that occurred during the Kelowna trip; however, even after this confrontation they spent almost all of their time in Kelowna playing online video games.”
"The world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more," Bruce said her ruling as she characterized the RCMP's methods as "multi-faceted and systematic manipulation."
A jury found the pair guilty in June 2015 of terrorism-related charges but Bruce delayed registering the convictions at the request of defence lawyers, who wanted to argue the Mounties had entrapped their clients.
The stay of proceedings means the charges won't appear on any criminal record and can't be used against the couple in the future. Had they been convicted, Nuttall and Korody could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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