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Autism Ontario troubled by Veltman defence team's use of autism in criminal case

Autism Ontario is deeply troubled by the fact that the defense for Nathaniel Veltman tried to cite autism as a mitigating factor in the June 6, 2021 attack on the Afzaal family.

The advocating body for people on the spectrum do not want autism used as a legal defense in any criminal trials.

“This sort of legal tactic, it risks stereotyping and stigmatizing an entire population of people with autism," said Autism Ontario Communications Specialist, Michael Cnudde.

During the 11 week-long murder week trial, Veltman’s defense called up a forensic psychiatrist who diagnosed Veltman with autism spectrum disorder this past year.

Ultimately, it did not play a factor and Veltman was found guilty of all charges in the attack on a London, Ont. Muslim family more than two years ago. 

Michael Cnudde said sadly this isn’t the first time this tactic has been used.

“The van attack trial, I’m sure you’ll remember back in 2018, they laid the groundwork for where they tried to use autism as a legal defense, that didn’t work. But it opened the door to something called ‘not criminally responsible due to autism,’ explained Cnudde.

Cnudde who is on the spectrum himself, said he was horrified when he heard autism being associated with violence.

“The prevalence of violence is the same as it would be in the general population, and autistic people are more often — I said this before, and it’s true — victims of violence,” said Cnudde.

Cnudde said that that autism should not be used as a legal defense to evade responsibility for criminal actions. Top Stories

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