B.C. judge questions Crown’s urgency in applying for peace bond in terror case

Judge questions Crown's urgency in terror case

VANCOUVER — A provincial court judge in British Columbia is questioning the Crown’s urgency to impose additional restrictions on a couple freed five months ago after a higher court overturned verdicts finding them guilty of committing terrorist acts.

Judge Reg Harris asked public prosecutor Sharon Steele on Friday why the Crown didn’t wait to apply for a peace bond against John Nuttall and Amanda Korody until after a decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal, especially when it doesn’t appear the couple has breached their bail conditions or pose a threat to the public.

“It begs the question: Why are we here?” Harris asked.

“In reality, we could say, ‘Well, let’s hold on. Let’s let the Court of Appeal make its decision… .’ Because this may be all for naught.”

In June 2015, Nuttall and Korody were found guilty of planting explosive devices and plotting to kill persons unknown for the benefit of a terrorist group after they were caught up in an undercover RCMP sting operation. Their ultimate target was the B.C. legislature on Canada Day in 2013.

A year after the findings of guilt, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce dismissed the jury verdicts and rebuked the Mounties for entrapping the pair.

Friday’s proceedings are the latest in the legal saga, part of a hearing into what evidence should be admitted for the peace bond application against the pair, whom Bruce described in her ruling as naive and easily manipulated former heroin addicts.

Nuttall and Korody are currently restricted by bail conditions barring them from visiting the B.C. legislature, the Canadian Forces Base in Esquimalt and any Jewish school or synagogue. As well, they must report regularly to a bail supervisor and are forbidden from having weapons.

Steele told the court the Crown believes Nuttall and Korody remain a threat to the public.

“I can say with confidence that I still have every intention of proceeding with this peace bond hearing and I still do believe there is a very real need for some sort of supervision in the community,” she told the court.

Much of what the Crown would want to see in a peace bond is already in place through the bail conditions, she added.

Harris interjected: “Which brings us back to: Why not wait until the appeal has been heard?

“If good work is being done now, if you feel the community is being protected now, what’s the risk of waiting until the appeal’s been heard?”

The Crown has a responsibility to protect the public, Steele replied.

Speaking to the appropriateness of a peace bond, Harris raised the hypothetical example of the Crown appealing a ruling acquitting someone of first-degree murder.

“Between acquittal and … ultimate decision on the appeal, is the accused’s liberty restricted in any way, shape or form? Is there any bail document? Is there even a charge against the accused? No,” he said.

The hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday. A date for the peace bond hearing has not been set.

The appeal of the entrapment ruling is expected to begin in October.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

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