Surrey Provincial Court

Not guilty plea in White Rock explosives-cache case

Hamish Sutherland in custody since January as court sets 2014 trial date.

Ten days have been set aside for the trial of a man charged in connection with the discovery earlier this year of a cache of chemicals in a White Rock apartment.

Sara Hopkins, the lawyer for Hamish Norman Sutherland, confirmed Friday her client pleaded not guilty to the charges against him – including making or possessing explosives – during a brief video appearance in Surrey Provincial Court the day before.

A pre-trial conference has been set for Jan. 10, and the trial is scheduled to get underway on Feb. 17.

Sutherland, 34, has been in custody since his arrest just after 11 a.m. Jan. 24. He was charged after an anonymous tip about chemicals that may pose “a significant risk to public safety” led police to a third-floor apartment in the 15100-block of Prospect Avenue.

A search was executed by White Rock police and officers with the Explosive Disposal and Chemical/Biological/Radiological/Nuclear Response Unit, the Lower Mainland Integrated Forensic Identification Services, Emergency Response Team and White Rock firefighters.

Neighbours who contacted Peace Arch News about the incident described seeing numerous police cars, a hazardous materials truck and a bus at the scene.

The suite was deemed uninhabitable, and seized chemicals were sent to a lab for analysis.

Sutherland was denied release from custody following a bail hearing held before Judge Jennifer Oulton on June 13.

Hopkins – describing pre-trial custody as “not a nice place to be” – said her client has the right to request a review of that decision in the months prior to the trial.

She noted the anticipated length of the trial factored in to when it could be scheduled.

 

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