Accused killer in triple-murder despised taxes, family testifies

Accused killer Ian Bush's son and former spouse testified this week that the family was under financial pressure around the time the homicides took place, and said while Bush didn't want to talk about their problems, he had no issue talking about his hatred of taxes.

WARNING: This story contains strong language

Ian Bush, 61, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty. (Sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod for CBC News)

Accused killer Ian Bush's son and former spouse testified at his trial this week that the family was under financial pressure around the time the homicides took place, and said while Bush didn't want to talk about their problems, he had no issue talking about his hatred of taxes.

"Those rat bastards are not going to get any more money out of me," his ex-common law spouse recalled Bush saying.

"I would never bring [taxes] up because it always ended up in an argument.... He just didn't want the government to have any more of his money," she told Crown prosecutor James Cavanagh during examination-in-chief Thursday.

"He didn't agree with it at all. He'd always swear, he had a foul mouth. He was very angry. His voice would rise, and I used to say, 'Calm down, calm down, my god.'"

Bush is on trial for three counts of first-degree murder in the 2007 deaths of retired Tax Court of Canada judge Alban Garon, 77, Garon's 73-year-old wife Raymonde, and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos, 78.

Bush, now 61, was charged in 2015 and has pleaded not guilty.

'He belittled me all the time'

His former partner cannot be identified by name due to a publication ban. She appeared in court Thursday via a video feed from another room in the courthouse.

"His finances were his finances and they were none of my business," she told court. "[Our relationship] was up and down. Constantly arguing, constantly. He belittled me all the time."

The couple never married but had three children together in the 1980s after meeting in Cornwall, Ont., in 1979. They moved around a lot as Bush took on different jobs, then settled in Ottawa in 1998, moving into a house Bush's mother owned at 1995 Boake St. in Orléans.

From left, Raymonde Garon, her husband Alban Garon, and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos were found dead in the Garons' apartment building in June 2007. (Photo collage by CBC)

"He was supposed to be paying for the rent and I was paying for the household bills or groceries. Any time I asked him about anything about money it was, 'Don't worry about it, it's my business,'" the woman testified.

After she walked in on a heated conversation between Bush and his brother, Bush told her he was behind on the rent and asked whether they might buy the house.

"I said there's no way we can afford it on one salary. He says no, go to the bank and see about a mortgage. He wouldn't come," she said.

The woman made the appointment, found out it wasn't possible, and in the spring of 2007 Bush's mother put the house up for sale, she said. Bush didn't help find a new place to live, she testified, and after some searching with her children, the family moved into a rented house at 481 Valade Cresc.

Family under 'financial stress,' son testifies

Earlier Thursday, the couple's son Brock Bush, 29, took the stand. He works at the Ottawa Hospital, studied police foundations at Algonquin College, then obtained a degree in criminology and psychology from the University of Ottawa.

He told court that by 2006 his mother was the family's principal earner. He didn't know exactly how much his mother made, but knew his father earned "a lot less."

Ian Bush had started his own company, called Bush and Associates Consulting, and while there were two other employees at first, by 2007 Bush was working alone, his son testified. Big contracts were few and far between, Brock Bush said, and sometimes there was no work.

The couple's relationship was tense due to "financial stress," Brock Bush testified. He recalled his parents having a conversation about it, during which his mother asked Ian Bush to bring more money in to keep them afloat.

He recalled his father having an argument over the phone with his uncle around the same time, and heard his father say, "'I know, Norman, I know. I should have been up-front.'"

Brock Bush's mother later told him the conversation between his father and uncle was about the house. Norman was upset his brother had led on their mother for so long, Brock Bush testified.

"I went to him and asked for a family meeting so we could discuss what was going on," Brock Bush told court, but his father, in a sarcastic tone, brushed him off.

Taught son how to file taxes

Also Thursday, the accused's son identified his father in some OC Transpo surveillance video shot not far from the luxury condo where the victims were found dead.

He told court he could recognize Ian Bush by his distinctive walk, his fanny pack, and the green bag he was carrying.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Geraldine Castle-Trudel asked Brock Bush whether police told him before he first saw the video that the frame speed might alter a person's movement.

He replied that no, he didn't recall being told.

Brock Bush also told court Thursday that his dad talked "a lot, quite often" about taxes, saying the government steals money and people shouldn't have to pay them.

But under cross-examination, Brock Bush testified his father taught him how to file taxes, and that nothing has ever been found to be wrong with them.

"So he taught you well?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.

The trial continues Monday with more testimony from Ian Bush's former partner.