Canada Judge Rules That Police Entrapped Couple in Bomb Plot


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John Nuttall and Amanda Korody embraced after a Supreme Court judge ordered their release saying the Canadian couple were entrapped in a police sting operation.

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Ben Nelms/Reuters

OTTAWA — A Canadian couple who planted what they believed were pressure-cooker bombs outside British Columbia’s legislature in 2013 were freed on Friday after a judge ruled that they had been entrapped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The couple, John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody, are recovering drug addicts who once lived on the street. They had been convicted of terrorism-related charges and were possibly facing life in prison because of their actions on Canada Day on July 1, 2013.

But in a scathing decision, Justice Catherine Bruce of the Supreme Court of British Columbia found that the Mounties had instigated the terrorist plot and manipulated the common-law couple.

“The defendants were the foot soldiers, but the undercover officer was the leader of the group,” Justice Bruce wrote in a decision that also dismissed the credibility of testimony by several police officers. “Without the police it would have been impossible for the defendants to carry out the pressure-cooker plan,” she added.

While defense lawyers have argued in other terrorism cases that their clients had been entrapped by the police, this was the first time that a Canadian court accepted the claim. “The world has enough terrorists,” Justice Bruce wrote. “We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people.”

The couple were convicted last year of three terrorism-related charges. Under Canadian law, entrapment arguments are heard only after a guilty verdict. The decision by Justice Bruce allowed her to issue a stay of proceedings, essentially ending the legal action. While technically not an acquittal, it leaves Mr. Nuttall and Ms. Korody without criminal records.

The couple, who said they were converts to Islam, came to the attention of the police initially after a neighbor complained that Mr. Nuttall was making violent “Islamic” statements. Although he had a record of petty crime, violence and drugs, when the police investigated the complaints they usually found them groundless and that Mr. Nuttall was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some officers and health officials said they were concerned that he appeared to be mentally unstable.

For reasons that are not clear, the couple were placed under surveillance.

The police learned that they rarely traveled beyond a four-block radius of their basement apartment. The couple reportedly drank to excess, used drugs and played video games and paintball for long periods.

Despite the lack of any indication that they were plotting criminal acts, the police started an undercover operation in which officers posed as members of a terrorist group and befriended the couple. The plan was approved by the police force’s national headquarters.

Mr. Nuttall, the judge wrote, “demonstrated a naïve, childlike demeanor right from the start” of his dealings with the undercover officers, who pretended to be bent on launching an attack. “The police decided they had to aggressively engineer and plan for Nuttall and Korody and make them think it was their own,” the judge wrote.

The bombs made from pressure cookers that the couple planted were inert. The police force said in a statement that it respected the decision and was consulting with prosecutors.

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