B.C. Supreme Court justice Catherine Bruce has concluded that the Mounties entrapped two Surrey drug users into plotting a terrorist attack.
As a result, Bruce entered a stay of proceedings against John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody. This overturns their convictions last year of conspiring to commit murder and possessing explosives.
The couple placed pressure cookers filled with explosives on the lawn of the B.C. legislature on Canada Day in 2013. (The weapons were made nonfunctional by the RCMP.)
A massive RCMP sting operation monitored and directed the couple. An undercover operative even drove them to stores where they looked for bomb-making equipment.
Bruce declared in court today that police, in fact, manufactured the crimes.
She acknowledged that Nuttall "held extremist views of the Muslim faith" and that Karody "appeared to accept" this.
"However, the actions of the police went far beyond presenting the defendants with an opportunity to commit an act of terrorism," Bruce declared in her ruling. "The police engaged in a multi-faceted and systematic manipulation of the defendants to induce them into committing a terrorist offence."
In addition, Bruce stated that the undercover operation's "deceit practised upon the defendants constituted an implied threat".
"The defendants were so convinced that Officer A and his associates were part of Al Qaeda that they came to fear the officers would kill them if they did not complete the terrorist plan that was orchestrated by the police," the judge wrote.
She also pointed out that recorded conversations indicated that Nuttall had "obvious intellectual deficits that should have been apparent to the police".
"The defendants’ unsophistication and child-like nature made it easy for Officer A to manipulate their actions and beliefs. They came to love and trust him completely."
Police billed more than $900,000 in overtime conducting the investigation, according to a Canadian Press access to information request.
At a news conference following the arrest of Nuttall and Korody in 2013, the Mounties refused to discuss whether any security-agency employees had pretended to be collaborators with the pair.
Later, Nuttall and Korody were portrayed in the media as highly confused people who were possibly in need of mental-health services.
“These individuals were inspired by al-Qaeda ideology,” RCMP assistant commissioner James Malizia insisted at the time. “Our investigation demonstrated that this was a domestic threat, without international linkages.”
Bruce's ruling stopped short of saying police acted in bad faith. Rather, she wrote that "they did not act in good faith."
"They were clearly overzealous and acted on the assumption that there were no limits to what was acceptable when investigating terrorism," the judge stated. "Within their ranks there were warnings given and ignored."