One of the highest-profile defendants charged with criminaloffences stemming from the G20 summit in Toronto two years ago willlearn his fate today. Byron Sonne, who made headlines with his self-described attempt toexpose gaps in the summit’s billion-dollar policing scheme and toprovoke authorities, faces four counts of possessing explosives andone charge of counselling mischief not committed. Ontario Superior Court Justice Nancy Spies is to deliver herjudgment starting at 10 a.m. ET in a downtown Toronto courtroom.
The judgment was delayed several weeks because, in anotherheadline-grabbing incident after the main part of the trial wasover, the police bomb squad descended on Sonne’s former home last month to unearth what they said were “hazardous materials”buried in his backyard. Circumstantial case The Crown concedes that Sonne (whose surname rhymes with “honey”)never possessed any actual explosives and that nothing he had isillegal on its own. Many of the substances seized amid thechemistry equipment in his home, including acetone, hydrogenperoxide and ammonium nitrate, are the main ingredients in commonhousehold products such as nail-polish remover, hair bleach andfertilizer. But the Criminal Code says the crime of possessing an explosiveincludes having “anything intended to be used to make an explosivesubstance.” Prosecutors maintain that the circumstantial evidence,particularly the sheer quantities of ingredients Sonne kept, showshe indeed had them for the purpose of synthesizing explosives, evenif he had no concrete, detailed plans to ever do so. Defence lawyers and Sonne’s supporters say that totallymisconstrues the intentions of the peaceable, highly intelligent ITprofessional, whose goal was simply to test how much the June 2010G20 security apparatus would encroach on people’s liberties.
Madison Kelly, a Toronto computer specialist and friend of thedefendant, said there are perfectly innocent reasons Sonne kept achemical cache: he was hobbyist in rocketry and chemistry, enjoyedgardening with his then wife and, like many hackers in thetraditional sense of the word, had a passion for tinkering withthings. “There’s nothing here that says he was going to do somethingwrong,” Kelly said in an interview. “They jumped to the conclusionthat everything he had had a nefarious purpose, partially becauseof his political views.” Potato cannon Those “nefarious” things included a potato cannon at his parents’cottage, for which police initially charged Sonne, 39, with aweapons offence. The charge was later dropped. Roll Forming Machinery
Police also made a big fuss early on about a “waveguide” that Sonnehad in his garage, claiming it was an electromagnetic weapon todisrupt telecommunications. It was really just a physics experimentto see whether he could redirect energy from a microwave oven. Inthe end, he wasn’t even able to melt chocolate with it and haddisassembled it. In court documents, police also claimed that he had a detonatorthat turned out to be just a temperature sensor, and that he wastrying to intimidate officers ahead of the G20 by taking picturesof them. Those charges were dropped, too. Roof Panel Roll Forming Machine
Friend and fellow rocketry enthusiast Fryderyk Supinski said Sonne whose resum includes a certification in computer security anda private investigator’s licence was just keen to holdgovernment to account for the nearly $1 billion spent on G20 summitsecurity. That’s why he shot video of the fence and securitycameras erected around downtown Toronto and posted pictures ofthem, along with some photos of police constables, online. “He was documenting some of the security apparatus, asking whatkind of setup is there, what’s the $1 billion that’s being investedby us and giving a critical eye to it so that our government isn’twasting money. It’s also to do with ensuring that some of the stuffthat is deployed is taken down after the fact,” Supinski said. China K Span Roll Forming Machine
“The police are looking at this, and they’re like, ‘What is thisguy doing? He’s documenting our setups?’ For them, there’s nobenefit in him doing that. It’s likely going to make them look bad.So for Byron, he’s doing other hobbies which are being essentiallyleveraged against him to trump up what he’s doing downtown.” Kelly said prosecuting Sonne has cast a chill over Toronto’s hackercommunity, many of whom “have the same stuff.” “What if we say something against the sitting government, oragainst the police? Because he was a geek, because he hadnonstandard interests, and because he had pissed in the police scereal, they used these things against him,” she said. Lost wife, house Sonne’s legal saga has cost him dearly. His wife, who was arrestedon accusations she conspired with him before those charges weredropped, divorced him. He no longer lives at their home inToronto’s tony Forest Hill neighbourhood.
His legal bills are inthe tens of thousands of dollars, and he spent 11 months inpre-trial incarceration before getting bail. If he’s convicted, his charges carry a maximum sentence of 25years, though the penalty would almost certainly be much lower. Sonne’s defence lawyers, Joseph Di Luca and Peter Copeland, saidneither they nor their client would do interviews ahead of thejudgment. Prosecutor Liz Nadeau likewise declined to answerquestions. “He s anxious to see this over with.
It s a tremendouslystressful experience,” Kelly said. Asked whether Sonne willcontinue to “tickle the dragon,” as he once characterized hisagitating, if he’s acquitted, Kelly replied: “I would say from myexperience: Yes he will, because he knows what he did is right.”.