July 12th, 2024

Coutts murder-conspiracy trial hears RCMP found pipe bombs in home of accused

By The Canadian Press on June 28, 2024.

A truck convoy of anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A man accused of conspiring to kill Mounties at the border blockade at Coutts, Alta., had 40,000 rounds of ammunition on his property along with a shotgun, a rifle and two pipe bombs, court heard Friday.

RCMP Cpl. Megan Evans testified an explosives team was called in to ensure the bombs posed no danger during the search of Anthony Olienick’s rural property near Claresholm, southeast of Calgary, in February 2022.

Evans said while looking through a shop on the property, officers found the rounds of ammunition in plastic bins. They were for shotguns, .308-calibre rifles and a Winchester rifle.

The jury was shown a picture of a wooden box from the shop area that appeared to hold two black pipe bombs with wires coming out of one end.

Evans said the bombs were photographed then moved outside.

“We didn’t know the status of them, and we called the explosive device unit out of Edmonton in order to come and ensure that these were safe,” Evans told the jury.

Inside Olienick’s house, police found black gloves, a handgun holster and a passport behind a sliding mirror, Evans said.

In a vehicle on the property, they found a shotgun and a rifle. The defence is contesting the vehicle doesn’t belong to Olienick.

Olienick and Chris Carbert are on trial in Lethbridge, Alta., for their actions at the Coutts blockade, which tied up traffic for two weeks at the busy Canada-U.S. border crossing to protest COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

The men have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. They are also charged with mischief and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Olienick faces a further charge of possessing a pipe bomb.

All protesters disbanded the blockade after police made arrests and seized weapons.

Along with ammunition and weapons at Olienick’s property, the trial has heard police found weapons, ammunition and body armour in a modular home and travel trailers in Coutts.

There were rifles, assault-style rifles, a shotgun, a pistol – and a firearms licence in Carbert’s name.

Police also seized a bandolier with shotgun shells, a brown pistol belt with two magazines, a camouflage backpack, a grey tactical vest with the word “infidel” on it and an American flag.

In making its case so far, the Crown also presented eyewitness testimony from undercover officers.

The officers, posing as volunteers at the blockade, told court that Olienick said he believed Mounties were pawns of the federal government and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the devil. Police should be hanged, he said, and if officers raided the blockade he would “slit their throats.”

In a police interrogation video shown to the jury, Olienick denied targeting police but said he fears an invasion by United Nations troops or Chinese communists.

He characterized himself and others as “sheepdogs” protecting “the flock” from tyrannical invaders.

He cried when police told him the blockade ended after the arrests. “I’m sorry, God,” he said later while sitting alone in an empty interrogation room.

The defence has suggested one of the undercover officers broke legal and ethical rules by flirting with Olienick to get information, sending him heart emojis in text messages. The officer rejected the suggestion, saying the emojis indicated she approved of the comments, not the person.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2024.

– By Bill Graveland in Calgary

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