The man accused and charged in a terror plot at the B.C. Legislature has a history of drug abuse and run-ins with the law, but was also described by friends and former band mates as intelligent, very caring and a great friend to those close to him.
Known as Johnny to a friend who went to prom with him in 1994, she says “he was troubled, he had a lot of dealings with the law and he spent time in jail.” But the woman, who prefers to be unnamed, also says when you caught him on a good day “he was kind, sensitive, very caring, very devoted. So it was a bit shocking to find out that he was capable of doing what he has been accused of doing.”
The last time the woman says she spoke with him was six years ago and at the time, he was in a methadone program and on “a good path and seemed to be getting his life together.” But regardless of where he was in his recovery, she says in the 20 years she’d known Nuttall, he was into role-playing games and alternate religions.
Stefano Sxdryz, who knew John Nuttall from high school although they did not attend the same one, were in the band Lush Boys together.
That relationship only lasted for about a month. Nuttall went by the name Johnny Blade in the band, but other band mate Tommy Thrust said he was very difficult to work with.
“He was in the band long enough to write one song on our new album,” said Thrust. Nuttall wrote the music to a song called Moment of Madness.
“He was extremely difficult to work with, very slow learner, he would always show up for rehearsals a little bit messed up, probably just drunk,” said Thrust.
“We had to give him the boot because things weren’t working out.”
Thrust and Sxdryz said Nuttall took it very well and they remained friends while Nuttall was in Victoria.
However, Sxdryz played in a previous band with Nuttall and praised him as a friend. “As a friend he was certainly a stand up guy, he’d go to bat for you 100 per cent without asking questions,” he said.
“He definitely had a dark past, which is how I would describe it.”
His former prom date echoes Sxdryz’s sentiments saying Nuttall had a huge presence – over six feet tall with a distinctive look – and although Nuttall was an ultimate bad boy, “if he was your friend, you knew he would do anything for you.”
Due to what the woman says was a “troubled childhood”, Nuttall was raised by his grandmother, who loved him immensely and tried to get him on the right path.
However, Sxdryz said Nuttall, in his opinion, was a product of society and the system. “He was in and out of foster homes, you know, his parents basically disowned him, he was kind of pushed as a social outcast, not very accepted in any circles,” said Sxdryz. “He had a lot of anger, but he had a lot of love to be honest. Anybody who was close to him was 100 per cent, he would protect them.”
Stefano said when Nuttall moved to Surrey he would continue to keep in touch with him, giving him an updated phone number so they could continue to contact each other, but in the last 10 years they haven’t spoken much.
Neither of the former band mates knew anything about Nuttall’s conversion to Islam. However, the woman isn’t surprised about his choice to convert to Islam since Nuttall had always been interested in religion and craved something he could have as his own.
“I know that he was always in and out of trouble with the law so I guess there was a part of me that wasn’t surprised,” said Sxdryz, “but at the same time I never really pictured him to be, I don’t know, I think a lot of the media is painting him to be a terrorist, I think Tommy and I have said a few times… I don’t see him putting that much forethought into something like this.”
Barry Harder and Daryl Nelson have known Nuttall for about five years and lived across the street from him in Surrey.
They did know about his and Korody’s conversion to Islam, but say he was kicked out of the mosque about a month ago. Nelson said when Nuttall converted to Islam he stopped hanging out with all his friends, and referred to non-Muslims as ‘kafirs’ and ‘infidels’.
Nelson said the last time he talked to Nuttall was on the 30th to ask about some money he had lent him. They talked about maybe playing paintball on the weekend as they hadn’t seen each other for a while. Nuttall said he was in the Okanagan.
Both men say they do not believe Nuttall acted alone in this alleged plot.
“All I can imagine was that he definitely had help from somebody, somebody was influencing him, or directing him on where to go with that, and on top of that he learnt what he needed to know off of the Internet,” said Nelson.
Regardless of being painted by both his former prom date, band mates, and current friends as someone not capable of building bombs or carrying out a terrorist act, the allegations are still resonating with those who knew him.
“Based on the fact that I know Johnny, I was reluctant to do this interview,” the woman says. “It’s not something you want to write home about but I also want people to know he was a caring guy and obviously something happened to him for him to be an alleged terrorist.”
© Shaw Media, 2013