Several kinds of rope. An air gun. A sawed-off .22-calibre rifle with live ammunition. A wooden carving of a handgun, painted silver, with a black grip. And clear plastic bags marked only with suffocation warnings.
Those were some of the items found by Ottawa police in a black satchel, sitting in the basement of Ian Bush's home on Valade Crescent in Orléans when they executed a search warrant in December 2014. They were looking into the 2007 deaths of retired tax judge Alban Garon, his wife Raymonde Garon, and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos.
Ian Bush, now 61, was charged in February 2015 with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths and has pleaded not guilty. His trial before a judge and jury, now in its third week, is expected to last 12 weeks.
Alban Garon, 77, died of strangulation from a noose placed around his neck, suffocation from a plastic bag placed over his head, and blunt force trauma powerful enough to fracture his skull.
Raymonde Garon, 73, and Beniskos, 78, died of suffocation from plastic bags placed over their heads. Both were hog-tied, their wrists and ankles bound together behind their backs.
All three victims were found in the Garons' luxury condominium on Riverside Drive.
'Could be used in a violent offence'
Det. Jennifer McLinton testified Friday she was part of the search team who entered Bush's home with a warrant on Dec. 20, 2014. A colleague alerted her to the black satchel, sitting between a furnace and an office/music room in the basement.
Looking through it, McLinton told court she could see the things inside had a common theme, that "they could be used in a violent offence."
She stopped her search of the bag, not wanting to contaminate it, and handed it over to another officer who was in charge of collecting exhibits.
Photos taken by that officer were shown in court Friday. Along with the air gun, sawed-off rifle with ammo, wooden handgun carving and clear plastic bags, police also found a heavy black metal bar, two rolls of duct tape, two knives, safety glasses, business cards, a paper with a target on it used in target practice, two small metal rods, a wooden stake carved into sharp points at both ends, yellow dish gloves, pellets, a black fanny pack and small wooden sticks sharpened at one end.
Also found in the satchel were three cards. One reads: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Another reads: "Tyranny of the bureaucrats can only be overcome by the people, NOT by political hacks."
Another reads: "Drive them quickly to their graves."
Photos from satchel
Alban Garon summoned to fake hearing
Sgt. Richard Dugal testified he was tasked with interviewing potential witnesses at the federal courthouse where Alban Garon had once worked as a tax court judge.
A courthouse employee looked Bush up in the federal court database and found litigation files bearing his name from 1992 through to 2000, the year an appeal by Bush was dismissed.
Dugal testified he was notified about the files and picked up copies in January 2015.
Among them was a July 2001 fax addressed to then tax court judge Alban Garon, summoning him to a fake hearing at Bush's then home on Boake Street in Orléans on Aug. 7, 2001.
"Take notice that if you fail to appear at the time and place set for this review, the decision and its related decisions will be nullified for failure to appear," the fax reads.
DNA expert testifies
Court also heard Friday from DNA expert Brian Peck, the lead forensic biologist in the triple homicide, who authored 24 reports in the case.
Earlier in the trial court heard that two pieces of DNA evidence — a body hair and a sample of mixed blood, both taken from the living room floor where the bodies were found — linked Bush to the scene.
Bush's defence team admitted Thursday that the body hair belongs to Bush. Before that admission, Peck found there's about a one in 13 quintillion chance that a randomly selected person unrelated to Bush would share the same DNA profile found in the body hair.
Meanwhile, the probability that a randomly selected person unrelated to Bush would coincidentally share the same DNA profile in the swab of mixed blood is estimated to be one in 13,000, Peck found.
Peck testified the most plausible explanation for both samples of DNA being found in the room is that its owner was there. It's more incriminating, he told court, that both samples were found in the same place.
Eliminated suspect visited Ottawa once in 2009
Earlier Friday, court heard from Antony Thavaratnam.
On Thursday, court had heard that the partial DNA sample obtained from the mixed blood sample was checked against a police record system, which at the time showed that a man named Antony Thavaratnam couldn't be excluded as the DNA's owner.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Hodgins testified Thursday that Thavaratnam was later eliminated as a suspect based on an interview with police, as well as "the low probability of that being his DNA."
Thavaratnam, 57, told court Friday he lives in the Toronto suburb of North York and that he visited Ottawa only once, in 2009, for a demonstration on Parliament Hill regarding his home country of Sri Lanka, where a civil war was taking place.
The Grand & Toy employee, who also delivers newspapers, said he was arrested in 2007 for slapping his wife, who he is currently separated from. He pleaded guilty to an offence and was sentenced to six months of probation. He also told court he's in the process of being pardoned for the offence.
After being shown photos of the Garons and their building, he said he didn't recognize them and hadn't seen them before.
The trial continues Monday with more testimony from Peck.