British Columbia

B.C. terror trial top cop says inexperienced officers were a problem

The head of an RCMP team tasked with investigating a possible terror suspect says he had concerns about entrapment and abuse of process.

Concerns halted Nuttall/Korody sting at one point, court hears.

The head of an RCMP sting operation has told court he was unhappy at the lack of experience of some of his officers. (RCMP Handout)

The head of an RCMP team tasked with investigating a possible terror suspect has told a B.C. Supreme Court trial that he had concerns about entrapment and abuse of process near the start of a police sting.

Emails read in court show Sgt. Bill Kalkat asked undercover officers how they planned to avoid potential legal issues months before John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested for plotting to blow up the B.C. legislature in 2013.

Nuttall and Korody were found guilty of terrorism charges last June, but the convictions have not been entered while defence lawyers argue that police entrapped their clients in a sting.

Entrapment a concern

Crown lawyer Peter Eccles asked Kalkat when he began thinking about entrapment and abuse of process as possible issues.

"Late February, early March [of 2013]," Kalkat replied, adding that such issues are always a concern for investigators when a crime has not yet been committed.

The senior officer also told court that he faced some challenges with the undercover team investigating Nuttall and trying to determine whether he posed a threat to public safety.

An experienced officer was important for the case, Kalkat testified, adding he asked that someone who'd worked on similar national security investigations be assigned.

"There's a whole bunch of little fine details that come along in the national security world that just are not pressing in your typical homicide technique undercover operation."

The undercover officer also needed to be familiar with the Muslim faith, which Nuttall had converted to, and have some knowledge of Islamic extremism.

"If you can't talk the talk and walk the walk, it's going to be very difficult to ingratiate yourself with that target and move forward," Kalkat said.

Inexperienced officer

But one of the officers on the case had less experience than had been requested by Kalkat, creating challenges for the senior cop.

Investigators on national security cases don't have a lot of examples to follow, unlike homicide or drug investigations that undercover officers usually work on, Kalkat said.

"That's one of the difficulties you experienced with the undercover shop, that they were bringing pages out of the wrong playbook?" Eccles asked.

"That was one of the challenges I faced," Kalkat replied.

Emails read in court suggested he asked for more details about the undercover team's long-term plans.

"You can't just go scenario to scenario. There has to be some sort of game plan. And I wasn't seeing that with the undercover unit," Kalkat said.

Court heard that at one point, a difference in opinion over how the case should proceed put the investigation on hold.