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Man arrested with weapons cache has mental health issues, lawyer says

Police inspect the vehicle of a 53-year-old man arrested after he allegedly tried to drive his car containing weapons and possible dangerous material close to the G20 summit area in downtown Toronto, June 24, 2010.

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

The man who was arrested downtown Toronto days before the G20 for having a crossbow and other dangerous materials in his car has spent 48 days in jail, despite battling a mental illness, his lawyer says.

Gary McCullough, 53, hasn't been seen by a mental health professional while imprisoned at Maplehurst Detention Centre, his lawyer, James Carlisle, said Tuesday.

"He and I have made requests for the doctor to see him so the doctor can determine what treatment he might need," said Mr. Carlisle, declining to specify on what kind of mental difficulties the Haliburton, Ont., man has been grappling with.

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"We're hopeful that he'll be seen in the next few days."

Mr. McCullough asserts he saw a medical doctor after a run-in with another inmate a few weeks ago resulted in cracked ribs, according to the lawyer.

One mental health assessment on Mr. McCullough conducted June 29 by Eva Chow, a doctor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found he was fit to stand trial.

If it was determined he could have harmed himself or others, Mr. Carlisle said, he would have been put in a hospital.

Still, Mr. McCullough's charge shouldn't be connected to the G20, his lawyer said, and it shouldn't have anything to do with his mental issues.

Mr. Carlisle said there was no evidence to prove his client, who lives in a rural area and prefers to use the crossbow instead of a firearm to ward off bears, had any intention of using the weapon in Toronto. Should the Crown argue in the trial that it was related to the G20, Mr. Carlisle says there's nothing to suggest his client intended to go near the protests, let alone participate.

He said his client was getting his car fixed in Toronto that day and usually stored the crossbow in an overhead compartment on the vehicle.

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Police originally reported that Mr. McCullough was in possession of a chainsaw, five arrows, a sledgehammer, a pickaxe and a baseball bat when he was arrested within the G20 zone near The Esplanade on June 24. His car also contained several laptop computers as well as a number of gasoline canisters, cola bottles and water containers that were tested at the site by the hazardous materials team. Their contents were deemed harmless.

A police officer working with the Integrated Security Unit spotted the vehicle and made the report. Police assured the public the arrest had nothing to do with the G20, a point Mr. Carlisle says should be made clear in the case proceedings.

"I'm trying desperately to get the exact statement" from Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, Mr. Carlisle said.

Mr. McCullough faces just one weapons charge related to the crossbow, according to court documents.

Still, the question of mental health continues to throw a wrench into the proceedings against him.

On Tuesday, the court set a one-day trial date of Oct. 6. He had been denied bail in June on "secondary grounds," because it was felt his release would constitute a danger to the public.

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In the Old City Hall courtroom, Mr. Carlisle asked that the detention order be overturned. The only way to do that is to appeal it at the Superior Court before the trial.

Standing solemnly in a courtroom at Old City Hall, Mr. McCullough piped up as his lawyer explained why they believe it's impossible to have a fair trial while he's still in custody. "It's not constitutional," he said.

Negotiations with the Crown about possible conditions have been ongoing, Mr. Carlisle said.

In the same hearing Tuesday, prosecutor Philip Enright drastically reduced the maximum sentence Mr. McCullough could face, if convicted, from 10 years in prison to six months.

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