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Case of accused killer in London, Ont. attack put over

LONDON, Ont. -

The man accused of deliberately driving into a Muslim family in London, Ont., killing four and injuring a fifth, made a brief court appearance Thursday morning.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, who faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, appeared via video in an orange jumpsuit and mask.

The appearance lasted less than five minutes as the case was put over until Monday.

The court heard Veltman needs to apply for legal aid and when asked about legal representation by Hardy & Associates, Veltman said, "I have only spoken to them."

However, as of early Thursday afternoon, Damon Hardy tells CTV News London he is not the lawyer of record and has not been retained.

Fraser Ball and Gen Moser are the Crown attorneys handling the case.

The courtroom was closed to the public and a publication ban has been put in place on the proceedings.

Relatives have identified the deceased as 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal.

The couple's son, nine-year-old Fayez, was seriously wounded but is expected to recover.

Police have said the attack on Sunday night was a planned and premeditated act that targeted Muslims.

None of the charges have yet been proven in court.

The London Muslim Mosque, which the family belonged to, has called for a national summit on Islamophobia between all levels of government.

Prominent local lawyer speaks

A London lawyer and member of the Muslim community, Faisal Joseph, was at the courthouse to see the proceedings first hand, though he is not involved in the case.

"So I came down here personally but for me it was more emotional. When you see the accused you have to suppress any negative feelings and I was trying to be uplifted by remembering what had occurred at the rally at the Mosque and thousands of people coming together and unifying to stamp out any type of hate anywhere in the city."

Observing the proceedings, Joseph says the suspect, "was small in stature, he didn't appear like he was concerned, he was quite stoic, so that surprised me a little bit. It wasn't what I expected to see."

Veltman was remanded in custody pending his next court appearance.

Joseph says the proceedings could be a lengthy process, and the publication ban is typical in these kinds of cases.

"He’s got to retain counsel. Once that starts the legal process starts. There will be motions there will be preliminary inquiries, there will be judicial pre-trials, there will be meetings with the Crown. If he doesn’t plead guilty, the accused, then in this case it’s going to take probably two to three years to go through the entire system."

Joseph says many tears have been shed in his household in recent days, as his family grapples with what happened.

"You would think nothing good can come out of something so horrific, but if we’re able to stamp out hatred and hate crimes and Islamophobia and any hatred of any group this will be a legacy for those people that paid the ultimate price for going for a walk with their family during COVID."

If you need mental health help in the wake of the London, Ont. vehicle attack, support and resources are available here.

- With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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