A police officer carries evidence after RCMP raided a house and arrested two people in Kingston, Ont., on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

A police officer carries evidence after RCMP raided a house and arrested two people in Kingston, Ont., on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Crown seeks life sentence for youth in terrorism case

The teen, who cannot be publicly identified, pleaded guilty to possessing explosive material and counselling someone to detonate a bomb

The Crown is seeking a life sentence for a teenager who pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges including possession of explosive material and counselling someone to detonate a bomb.

The youth admitted to the charges, as well as violating his bail conditions, last July in the Ontario Court of Justice.

He cannot be publicly identified under terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

During a hearing Wednesday, the Crown asked that the teenager be sentenced as an adult.

The Kingston, Ont., teen’s lawyer, Sean Ellacott, said a youth sentence of three years would be sufficient to hold him accountable.

Justice Elaine Deluzio plans to hear from several witnesses at a series of hearings this month to help determine a sentence.

In January 2019, the RCMP arrested the youth, who was 16 at the time, following a probe initiated by a tip from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Kingston police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the federal agency that tracks suspicious financial activities also assisted.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the teen unwittingly communicated with an FBI undercover agent he believed to be a “lone wolf” terrorist in Virginia who needed support.

The youth sent the agent instructions on how to build a pressure-cooker bomb and encouraged him to plant it in a public place, such as a bar, to kill “enemies of Allah.”

In the end, no explosive device was planted. But a search of the youth’s home turned up all the materials needed to create an explosive device.

The youth pleaded guilty last summer to facilitating a terrorist activity, possession of an explosive substance with intent to injure or kill, taking action to cause an explosion and counselling another person to detonate an explosive device to cause injury or death.

He also admitted to breaching his bail conditions for failing to wear a monitoring bracelet. The youth has been in custody since April 2019.

During the hearing Wednesday, Ellacott stressed the progress his client had made under challenging circumstances, including violence at the hands of other inmates.

Youth probation officer Rhonda McCall said the teen was “goal-oriented” and “working toward his future” by pursuing his education while in custody.

In cross-examining McCall, Crown attorney Tim Radcliffe highlighted “red flags,” suggesting the youth had deflected responsibility for his serious actions, placing his family and others at risk by working with explosive materials at home.

Radcliffe also noted the young person did not want his parents to attend regular case-management meetings.

Ellacott downplayed the notion of a rift, saying his client spoke to his parents by phone as often as twice daily.

McCall said that at one point she had asked the youth if he was ever worried about blowing his family “sky high.”

“His answer was, ‘I was in complete control,” she said.

“He definitely loves his family.”

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crimeTerrorism