Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alleged Threat to Harm Police with Chemical Was Meant as Private Joke: Lawyer

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alleged Threat to Harm Police with Chemical Was Meant as Private Joke: Lawyer

Article excerpt

Alleged chemical threat was a joke: lawyer

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HALIFAX - An alleged threat by a Halifax man to hurl a box containing a poisonous chemical at police was an absurd mix of contradictions that amounted to a joke, a defence lawyer argued Friday in closing arguments before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Mike Taylor told Justice David MacAdam that Christopher Phillips's emailed comments to a fellow chemist in the United States about throwing a vial of osmium tetroxide were too ridiculous to be seen as a serious threat.

Phillips -- whose arrest on Jan. 21 in an Ottawa hotel generated national headlines -- has pleaded not guilty to uttering threats and possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes.

His arrest came after police found a large stockpile of his chemicals in a cottage and in a shed next to his home, leading to evacuations of people living near the storage areas.

Crown attorney Karen Quigley said in her submission that a police investigator involved in what started as a routine check viewed the Dec. 27, 2014 email and perceived it as threatening officers.

She also said the email should be considered along with other factors, such as testimony from Phillips's wife that her husband's mental health was deteriorating before he abruptly departed in a cube van bound for Ottawa.

But Taylor said the wording of the email showed there was no criminal intent.

He said its text suggests a person could somehow poke a hole in a glass vial with osmium tetroxide as police entered their home, while the person donned a hazardous materials suit and held their breath.

The email goes on to refer to a tiny stick used to poke the hole in the small vial becoming a walking stick that would later be used by the person who throws the container.

In addition, the email speaks of the container being screwed to a credenza, which Taylor said would make it impossible to throw. …

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