Convictions upheld, notorious killer Ian Bush to remain behind bars

Ian Bush will not have a new trial for three murder convictions after the province's highest court tossed out his latest appeal, upholding four life sentences.

Ontario's Court of Appeal released the decision by three judges on Thursday, calling the evidence against Bush "overwhelming."

Considered one of Ottawa's most notorious murderers, Bush appealed two 2017 convictions for crimes notable for both their brutality and their targets, including a celebrated Second World War veteran and a retired chief justice of the Tax Court of Canada.

In April, Bush lost his bid to appeal an attempted murder conviction related to the veteran.

Thursday's decision upholds his other convictions for a shocking triple murder seven years before that incident.

Ernest Cote was a celebrated war veteran, and received a Legion of Honour Award from the Ambassador of France, Phillippe Guelluy at the French Embassy to Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, May 27, 2004.
Ernest Côté receives the Legion of Honour award from the French ambassador in Ottawa on May 27, 2004. Côté, a celebrated veteran of the Second World War, survived an attack by Ian Bush in 2014. He died of natural causes the following year. (Tobin Grimshaw/The Canadian Press)

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 seven years until Bush broke into a veteran's apartment, placed a plastic bag over his head and robbed him.

The victim, 101-year-old war hero Ernest Côté, survived the incident and died months later of natural causes.

A photo of Ian Bush provided by his family.
A photo of Ian Bush provided by his family. (Bush family)

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

His lawyers argued over two days in March against those convictions, saying in court filings there were errors made during the trials including allowing evidence suggesting Bush was planning other murders after the Garon homicides, and in how the jury was instructed.

In the latest decision, Justice Ian Nordheimer wrote that the evidence against Bush was "overwhelming."

"The evidence clearly established that all three victims were forcibly confined when they were killed," Nordheimer wrote.

"As such, there is no realistic possibility that a new trial would generate an outcome other than a conviction for first-degree murder."

For his crimes, Bush was sentenced to four concurrent life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Bush becomes eligible to apply for day parole in 2035 and full parole in 2040. Being able to apply for parole doesn't mean an offender will get parole.