Ottawa

Ian Bush a cowardly killer portraying himself as 'some kind of hero,' Crown contends

After Ian Bush killed the people he believed had ruined his life, he tried to rewrite his story in journal entries and even a novel outline, making himself into "some kind of hero," the Crown told the jury during closing statements this week.

Defence warns jury against 'tunnel vision' during their deliberations

Ian Bush, 62, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder. His trial in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa began in early April and is now nearing its end. (Sketch by Lauren Foster-MacLeod for CBC News)

Ian Bush killed retired tax judge Alban Garon and his wife for being part of a bureaucracy he believed had ruined his life, he killed their neighbour for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, then made himself out to be "some kind of hero," the Crown argued during closing statements at Bush's trial.

Bush, 62, is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the June 2007 Ottawa deaths of retired Tax Court of Canada judge Garon, his wife Raymonde Garon and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos.
From left, Raymonde Garon, her husband Alban Garon, and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos were found dead in the Garons' condo in June 2007. (Photo collage by CBC)

He has pleaded not guilty. The Ontario Superior Court trial began in early April, and closing statements began Monday and ended Tuesday.

During his closing address Monday to an 11-member jury — one of the jurors was excused, court heard, due to illness — Crown attorney James Cavanagh rejected the defence's proposition that Bush's body hair, found near the bodies, may have gotten into the 10th-floor condo by being coincidentally transferred there by someone else.

The "best explanation" for its presence there was an intense struggle between Bush and the three victims, Cavanagh told court. Taking them to the ground and tying them up created the "ideal conditions for the shedding of a body hair."

He also rejected the defence team's assertion that the hair and a partial DNA profile in some blood nearby — which court heard could be linked to Bush — have nothing to do with each other.

The fact they were found so close to each other "overwhelmingly proves [Bush's] guilt" beyond a reasonable doubt, Cavanagh argued. The two pieces of DNA evidence are enough to convict Bush, Cavanagh told the jury, even if they exclude whole sections of other evidence.

Cavanagh also argued that the yellow "hangman's noose" used to strangle Alban Garon is evidence of premeditation. Court heard from a knot expert during the trial that the complicated knot was likely tied and ready before the killer ever got to the condo.

'A rising flood of failure and humiliation'

Cavanagh described Bush as a man who despises taxes, and who targeted Alban Garon for his minor role in a tax dispute that dated back to the 1990s and was finally tossed out by the Tax Court of Canada in 2001.

Later that same year, Bush sent a fax to the tax court summoning Garon, then the chief justice of the tax court, to a fake hearing at Bush's house.

And years later, around the time of the killings in 2007, Bush was "sinking in a rising flood of failure and humiliation," Cavanagh told court.

Bush's HR business was failing, his mother had decided to sell the home his family was renting, and his brother had confronted him for leading their mother on about buying the house, and about being behind on rent.

Cavanagh also told court that in the years between the killings and his arrest, Bush tried to "recreate reality" through his journal entries and even wrote the outline of a crime novel in which he turned a "brutal thug" who murdered people into "some kind of hero."

As Cavanagh made his arguments Monday and Tuesday, Bush sometimes shook his head, muttered to himself, looked down his nose at Cavanagh and occasionally sneered and squinted at him in apparent disbelief. Sometimes Bush sat smiling, eyes closed, with his head resting against the glass of the prisoner's box. Every once in a while he'd raise his eyebrows or purse his lips, reacting to things Cavanagh said.

Defence warns against 'tunnel vision'

During her closing statements earlier Monday, defence lawyer Geraldine Castle-Trudel urged the jury to be "alert and sensitive" to the threat of "tunnel vision" as they deliberate their verdict. 

Castle-Trudel told the jury police were anxious to solve the cold case and that a "dangerous rush to judgment has been made."

She also told the jury she's confident that, when looking closely, they will have several reasonable doubts about the case.

While there was blood at the crime scene, there was no sign of it on Bush when he was captured on OC Transpo surveillance video nearby, she argued. A Crown witness who saw a delivery person getting out of an elevator at the victims' condo building was unable to point out that delivery person in the courtroom, she pointed out.

Bush's rants about taxes and bureaucracy to his relatives and in his journals wouldn't be unheard of in a political science class, in the pages of a newspaper's opinion section, or even in the House of Commons during question period, Castle-Trudel argued.

His finances weren't great but they weren't that bad either, and of course siblings argue about their parents' finances, especially if one of them is being helped out more than the other, she said.

As for the surveillance video footage of Bush at Hurdman station, Castle-Trudel asked the jury whether it actually reveals anything sinister. It doesn't show the contents of the bag he was carrying, she argued, and it doesn't show him entering the condo complex, just walking in its direction.

Killer could have climbed from balcony, defence suggests

It's also possible, she posited, that the killer may have left the apartment by climbing off the 10th-floor balcony when police arrived on June 30, 2007.

She reminded the jury that officers who were leaving the condo after seeing the bodies thought they heard a cough or exhale of breath, took out their weapons and looked around, but found nothing. Perhaps the killer, who had no other choice, left via the balcony. No one investigated that possibility, so there's no way to be sure, Castle-Trudel told the jury.

Cavanagh later rejected this argument, saying the bodies smelled of decomposition when the officers arrived and that the blood was dry, meaning the victims had been dead for some time.

On Wednesday the judge is expected to instruct the jury before they begin deliberations.