Nova Scotia

Christopher Phillips's past told through U.S. court documents

Court documents filed in the U.S. shed light on the complicated past of Christopher Burton Phillips, a Halifax man accused of threatening police and possessing dangerous chemicals.

History of mental illness, legal troubles and financial problems

Christopher Phillips, 42, was arrested in Ottawa Wednesday. (Facebook)

Court documents filed in the U.S. shed light on the complicated past of Christopher Burton Phillips, a Halifax man accused of threatening police and possessing dangerous chemicals.

Phillips, 42, appeared in court Friday in Halifax. He’s charged with uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

Police said the dangerous weapon charge against Phillips relates to the chemical osmium tetroxide and that they found unlabelled chemicals packed floor to ceiling in a cottage linked to Phillips.

The Crown attorney in the case has asked for a psychiatric assessment.

Court documents from the U.S. suggest Phillips has a history of addiction and mental illness.

According to documents filed in Washington state, Phillips served in the navy during the 1990s. While serving in 1992 he injured his feet and required several surgeries. The documents say Phillips was receiving monthly veterans disability benefits of $3,750.

Painkiller addiction

The injuries caused Phillips chronic pain and led to an addiction to painkillers, according to the documents.

“Phillips has continued to struggle with an addiction to opiate narcotics and with various psychiatric illnesses including mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies. His addiction and illnesses led to marital problems, numerous lawsuits in various states, adverse media exposure, and the eventual closing of his ophthalmology practice in 2007,” the documents state.

A psychologist who testified at Phillips’s bankruptcy proceedings said that at her first meeting with him in 2008 she diagnosed him with major depression and general anxiety.

She also told courts that when Phillips filed for bankruptcy, he was likely suffering memory loss because of a chronic sleep disorder.

Phillips is an American-trained doctor, with degrees from Oklahoma and Boston. He practised as an ophthalmologist and owned an eye-care clinic in Washington state starting in 2007. Complaints were brought against Phillips by at least five patients.

As of 2010, Phillips was no longer licensed to practice medicine in Washington.

Phillips also has a law degree, and in 2010 he was working on completing an MBA, according to the same court documents filed in 2010.

In an internal memo obtained by CBC earlier this week, RCMP described Phillips as a biochemical weapons expert.

Legal troubles

While working in the United States, Phillips sued at least six media organizations.

In a lawsuit filed in Washington state in March 2011, he claimed financial damages from KIRO-TV for claims of false reporting, which he alleged pushed him and his company, Seattle Eye Surgeons, to declare bankruptcy.

A court order dated November 2011 refers to Phillips as a suspected “spammer” by Yahoo, which shut down his email account.

Personal life

Phillips was formerly married to Olympic gold medallist Shannon Miller.

His current wife, Dr. Gosia Phillips, is a neurologist and sleep expert working for Capital Health.

She’s also a professor at Dalhousie University and medical director of MedSleep Atlantic in Dartmouth.

In a statement, the company said it is “aware that a very public matter has arisen that involves her husband and we are providing support to her while she deals with this unfortunate situation.”

MedSleep Atlantic said Christopher Phillips is not and has never been an employee of the company.