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Notorious killer seeking new trials 7 years after convictions | CBC News

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One of Ottawa’s most notorious killers is appealing his convictions, seven years after being found guilty of murdering a retired tax court judge, his wife and another woman, and the attempted murder of a veteran of the Second World War.

Ian Bush is seeking new trials and his lawyers made arguments this month in front of a panel of justices at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto.

In two separate trials, Bush was found guilty in 2017 of crimes still memorable to many Ottawa residents for their brutality and their targets, which included a former chief justice of the Tax Court of Canada and a celebrated war veteran.

In 2007, Bush killed three people in their 70s at a luxury Ottawa apartment building in “brutal, gratuitous” murders that involved his victims being tied up and suffocated with plastic bags.

The victims were retired judge Alban Garon, his wife Raymonde Garon and their friend and neighbour Marie-Claire Beniskos.

Bush held a longstanding grudge against Garon, but the murders went unsolved for six years until Bush broke into a veteran’s apartment, placed a plastic bag over his head and robbed him. 

The victim, 101-year-old Ernest Côté, survived the incident.

Second World War veteran Ernest Côté is awarded France’s Legion of Honour at the French Embassy in Ottawa in 2004. (Tobin Grimshaw/The Canadian Press)

Côté, who helped plan the Normandy invasion during the Second World War, was remembered as a “hero” and “old-school gentleman” during his funeral in 2015, months after the attack.

Police found evidence of the ties and plastic bags used in both crimes during their investigation into Bush, and in 2017 two juries found him guilty of the murders and the attempted murder.

The finding by a jury in his murder trial carried three automatic life sentences, to be served simultaneously. His attempted murder of Côté got him another 25 years.

Bush’s lawyers call for new trials

Over two days in March, Bush’s lawyers argued against his convictions and requested new trials in both the murder and attempted murder cases. 

A man in a suit poses for a photo.
Bush in a photo provided by his family. (Bush family)

In court filings, his lawyer said judges made errors during Bush’s trials including allowing evidence suggesting Bush was planning other murders after the Garon homicides had happened, and in how the jury was instructed. 

Howard L. Krongold argued the murder conviction should be appealed on two grounds. 

He argued there was a risk of prejudicing the jury when allowing evidence suggesting Bush had a “murder bag” prepared to commit similar crimes.

Bush’s lawyer also argued the trial judge, Justice Colin McKinnon, misdirected the jury in his instructions on a finding of first-degree murder in each of the 2007 deaths. 

In the attempted murder case, Krongold argued there was an error in how similar evidence of a “chilling, cold-blooded triple-murder” was presented.

Convictions ‘entirely justified,’ Crown says

In response, Crown prosecutors said in court documents there were no legal errors made in the trials, that the jury was property instructed, and evidence was lawfully obtained and used.

They say Bush’s convictions were “entirely justified” because of the “gravity of the offences” and Bush’s “extremely high degree of moral blameworthiness.” 

In the triple-murder trial, they noted the jury took less than three hours to reach a unanimous verdict, and the evidence presented was lawfully obtained. 

They said the finding of first-degree murder on all counts was “overwhelmingly established by the fact that all three victims were murdered while being confined — a basis of liability which remains unchallenged on this appeal.”

The Ontario Court of Appeal reserved its decisions after both hearings, which were held March 5 and 7. It could be months before the panel decides whether the appeals are granted or dismissed.

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