The Current

Judge says 'police manufactured' Canada Day bomb plot, defendants entrapped

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that John Nuttall and Amanda Korody could not have carried out a bomb plot without help from the RCMP, but how will their case affect future terrorism investigations?
Artist drawing of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody listening in court as the judge stays the proceeding in their terror trial. (Felicity Don/CBC)

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In the lead-up to Canada Day in 2013, John Nuttall and his wife, Amanda Korody, were arrested for planning to bomb the grounds of the British Columbia legislature. While a jury initially found the two guilty, Nuttall and Korody's verdicts were set aside by a B.C. Supreme Court judge on July 29.

The judge ruled that the couple were victims of entrapment who could not have carried out a bomb plot without help from the RCMP, saying the crime was "police manufactured by exploiting [Nuttall and Korody's] vulnerabilities."

This thing basically ballooned into an operation four months long, involved more than 240 officers, more than a million in overtime — just overtime, that is, to pay for it. The ruse, essentially, got to the point where the police, as the judge wrote in her ruling, should have known that these two were ... not intelligent, but naive.- Geordon Omand, Canadian Press reporter who has been following Nuttall and Korody's case

Geordon Omand, a Vancouver-based reporter for the Canadian Press who has been following the case, says that even shortly before July 1, 2013, Nuttall was still talking about ideas he had that the judge called "fanciful and grandiose." In fact, the judge even put forth the notion that Nuttall would not have been as radicalized had the police deescalated the situation instead of isolating him in a "police-manufactured sting operation," says Omand.

Breese Davies, vice president of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers' Association and a defence lawyer in the Toronto 18 terrorism case, says that while the ruling is shocking, it's not due to the judge decrying the RCMP's actions as entrapment — it's because of the lengths the police took "to fabricate and create this offence."

The police were in a unique position in this case, with these people's trust, that they could have taken a different step to deradicalize them, to get them help and not push them towards more serious criminal offences than they were ever going to commit themselves.- Breese Davies, vice president of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers' Association

Mubin Shaikh, a CSIS and RCMP operative in the Toronto 18 case and co-author of Undercover Jihadi, agrees with Davies, calling Nuttall and Korody's case a message for police services that the courts will not support this degree of undercover tactics. He believes what's needed are policy changes, both in national security operations and in their oversight.

"The setting up of the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-Radicalization Coordinator, maybe that's going to be a hub through which the RCMP can send people. It's an opportunity for communities to get the training they need to deal with mental vulnerabilities in these sorts of cases," Shaikh says.

The Current reached out to the RCMP for comment. They sent a statement which says, in part, that the "RCMP respects the judicial decision" and goes on to say, "The detection, disruption and deterrence of national security-related threats in Canada is a priority for the RCMP and its partner agencies. The RCMP and its partners remain committed to the safety and protection of the public."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Acey Rowe and Marc Apollonio.