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Crown denies trying to bolster G20 explosives case by re-opening trial

Byron Sonne.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The prosecution denies trying to bolster a faltering explosives case against a G20 activist by asking to admit new evidence even though the judge has already reserved her decision.

In taking the unusual step to reopen the trial, Crown lawyer Liz Nadeau said Thursday police had "an obligation" to act on information that emerged at Byron Sonne's trial when they dug up the backyard of his former home last week.

Ms. Nadeau said the prosecution only wanted evidence of what they found put before Ontario Superior Court Justice Nancy Spies, who had heard final submissions days before the police action.

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"It is not the Crown's intention to try to fill in any gaps," Ms. Nadeau told Justice Spies. "I have no intention of filing anything further."

Mr. Sonne, 39, who was arrested in the days leading up to the tumultuous G20 summit in Toronto in June 2010, is charged with four counts of possessing explosives and one of counselling mischief.

Police, who initially portrayed him as a budding terrorist, found no bombs at his home, but the Crown maintains the self-described security geek had chemicals he planned to combine into improvised explosives.

Amid a blaze of media attention, officers spent two days last week unearthing and destroying what they called a "dangerous" substance — 1.7 kilograms of the oxidizer potassium chlorate.

The defence maintains Mr. Sonne had the chemical for his rocketry hobby.

The Crown's tactic dismayed Mr. Sonne's lawyer, Joe Di Luca, who said he was unclear on what exactly the prosecution was trying to achieve.

"This is an extraordinary step to take in a criminal case," Mr. Di Luca said. "We have serious concerns about the way this has unfolded."

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Evidence that Mr. Sonne had placed the chemical in a storage magazine under a tree in the yard was put before the court during the trial, Mr. Di Luca noted, and Ms. Nadeau had made submissions on it.

Mr. Di Luca told court he might not worry if Ms. Nadeau was only trying to get the exact quantity of the chemical on the evidence record, saying it would corroborate Mr. Sonne's statements and nothing had changed.

However, if the Crown was seeking to go further, Mr. Di Luca said, it could mean calling and cross-examining new witnesses.

Justice Spies, who was to render her verdict in about two weeks, did not seem to relish the prospect of a substantial setback in proceedings.

"I'd hate to see the case get derailed," Justice Spies told counsel. "I would certainly like to get on with deciding the case."

Mr. Di Luca complained he was in no position to argue the reopening motion because he'd had no opportunity to review the Crown's materials.

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"I was handed this morning five discs," he said. "I don't have yet all of the police notes."

Justice Spies asked both sides to try to reach an agreement on the next step by Friday in an effort to smooth things along.

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