Accused in chemicals case had enough materials to make homemade explosives: RCMP

An RCMP forensic scientist says the Halifax man at the centre of a high-profile chemical scare that led to evacuations in two cities had enough chemicals stored in a shed to make 11 different types of explosives.

HALIFAX — An RCMP forensic scientist says the Halifax man at the centre of a high-profile chemical scare that led to evacuations in two cities had enough chemicals stored in a shed to make 11 different types of explosives.

Melanie Brochu, testifying Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, said Christopher Phillips had the materials but did not appear to be making any explosives when she examined hundreds of bottles and jars stored near a cottage east of Halifax.

Phillips is charged with threatening police officers and possessing a weapon – the hazardous chemical osmium tetroxide – for a dangerous purpose. That chemical was found in another shed near Phillips’s home in the Halifax area.

On Jan. 19, Phillips’s wife told police she was worried about his mental health and that she feared for the safety of her family because he possessed a large stockpile of chemicals and was talking about enriching uranium.

Neighbourhoods in Halifax and Grand Desert, N.S., were subsequently evacuated as police moved in to search the two properties. Phillips was arrested Jan. 21 in an Ottawa hotel after it was evacuated by police, but no chemicals were found there.

Brochu testified that osmium tetroxide is a toxic, corrosive chemical that can be deadly if swallowed. She said it is normally used as a biological stain when examining cells under a microscope. It also can be used as an oxidizing agent or as a fertilizer, she said.

The scientist testified that the chemicals in the shed in Grand Desert were difficult to assess because many of the containers were labelled with an alpha-numeric code that gave no indication of what was inside.

As well, she said the chemicals in Grand Desert were stored improperly because there was inadequate ventilation and no temperature controls in the shed. None of the chemicals were accompanied by the required Material Safety Data Sheets, she said, citing standard laboratory practice.

That was also the case for the shed in Cole Harbour where the osmium tetroxide was found in a box, Brochu said, adding that the chemical — some of it found in liquid form — could have frozen and ruptured the ampules it was in.

However, Phillips has not been charged with improper storage of chemicals. Defence lawyer Mike Taylor has stressed that his client purchased the osmium tetroxide legally, and that he had far less than the legal limit in his possession — 230 millilitres in liquid form and 31 grams in solid form.

Earlier in the day, the court heard from a Halifax police officer who read from letters and emails Phillips had sent to a media outlet while he was being held in custody.

In one letter, Phillips asserts that the charges against him are “baseless,” saying police have misconstrued a private email he sent to a friend in which he says he wants to construct a special display box for a vial of osmium tetroxide.

“I would never harm an … animal, a plant or even a police officer with something as terribly toxic as osmium tetroxide,” Phillips wrote in the email, which went on to describe how the box could be used as a weapon.

“Throw entire box at any police officer that has decided to take up residence on your property. While still holding your breath, run like hell.”

In his letter to the media outlet, Phillips says that he never made a direct threat to police. As well, he says his freedom of speech has been violated and he stresses that he obtained the chemicals legally.

“The charges against me are ridiculous,” the letter says.

In the rambling letter, Phillips suggests he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and there are vague references to a stabbing and a sexual assault years ago.

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Red Deer Emergency Services responded to an explosion at a duplex on Rupert Crescent Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to explosion in Red Deer early Saturday morning

There was an explosion at a Red Deer duplex early Saturday morning.… Continue reading

Terry Betts, of Kananaskis, looks at the vehicle he was hoping to sell during the Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet in the Westerner Park parking lot Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet held outdoors

A big automotive swap meet was held outdoors this year in Red… Continue reading

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is set to re-open on July 2. (File Photo)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum to reopen Monday

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will reopen for visitors… Continue reading

Huzaifa (left), Saif (middle) and Zoya (right) were among the 60 or so Red Deerians who participated in a vigil for the victims of a recent terrorist attack that killed four people in London Ont. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer vigil honours victims of London, Ont. terrorist attack

About 60 people gathered at the corner of 49 Ave. and 50… Continue reading

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Multivitamins are shown on the packaging line at the Pfizer plant in Montreal, Thursday, July 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canadian drug companies want new pricing regs delayed again until after pandemic

OTTAWA — Almost three dozen Canadian pharmaceutical companies made a direct appeal… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — The massive $70 million dollar Lotto Max jackpot remained unclaimed… Continue reading

Most Read