Nova Scotia

Christopher Phillips's emails with wife detail 'terrifying state'

The man whose chemical hoard caused police to order evacuations in two provinces wrote that he decided to leave his mother-in-law's home in Nova Scotia and drive to Ottawa for what he referred to as a 'vacation' as family pressures mounted.

Phillips is on trial this week in a Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax

Christopher Phillips, whose chemical stockpiles caused police to order evacuations in two cities, is in court this week. Phillips is shown arriving for his bail hearing at provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. (The Canadian Press)

The man whose chemical hoard caused police to order evacuations in two provinces told his wife he decided to leave his mother-in-law's home in Nova Scotia and drive to Ottawa for what he referred to as a "vacation" as family pressures mounted.

Within hours of him leaving the province, Christopher Phillips's wife contacted RCMP to express concerns about her husband's state of mind and let them know he could be in possession of dangerous chemicals.

Phillips is on trial this week in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, charged with threatening police and possessing a dangerous weapon. Police identified the weapon as osmium tetroxide, a chemical which can be absorbed through the skin and can be lethal.

The explanation of what occurred prior to his arrest on threats and weapons charges is contained in emails he exchanged with his wife, who subsequently forwarded them to the RCMP.

Phillips himself provided copies of the emails to CBC News.

Issues with mother-in-law

He was legally allowed to possess osmium tetroxide and police recovered a quantity of it when they searched his properties in January.

At the time of his arrest, Phillips and his wife Gosia were living with her mother, Maria Klonowska, in her home in Cole Harbour, N.S., while he worked on renovations to the house he and his wife owned. Property records show Gosia Phillips as the owner of the house on Lakeridge Crescent in Cole Harbour.

In the series of email exchanges with his wife, Phillips talks about suffering from PTSD and struggling to cope with mounting pressures.

In an email dated Jan. 16, Phillips wrote to his wife, "I love your mother, I just don't like her."

The next day Phillips wrote to Gosia that he had asked Klonowska to move her car so he could run some errands. Phillips says his mother-in-law refused, and started yelling at him instead. Phillips says he drove over her lawn to get away.

He talked about looking forward to the peacefulness and privacy of their new home.

He wrote to his wife describing his sudden road trip as a "vacation." The Crown said the Ottawa trip had nothing to do with the charges he faces.

In an email he sent from Moncton, Phillips wrote about buying some supplies before driving on to Ottawa. He wrote that he would be returning home two days later.

He never got the chance.

Wife's fears mounted

Police arrested Phillips at an Ottawa hotel Jan. 21. They flew him back to Nova Scotia and he has been in jail ever since.

His emails are long and rambling, and he talks a great deal about his struggles with PTSD, his children and about his state of mind.

In her replies, his wife writes of her growing fear and concern, and stresses that she feels her husband needs to get help.

"I know you think you're better but you have been in a terrifying state," Gosia Phillips writes on Jan. 19.

"I want to get you help, and I personally can't help you just by staying calm. I can not do this anymore. I'm petrified."

Phillips wrote to his wife from the road, saying "I am safe. I possess no weapons, conventional or otherwise. I have absolutely no desire to acquire such things, much less ever use them again."

The trial is scheduled to run all week.

About the Author

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

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