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Crown seeks fifth sentence of life in prison for 'mass murderer' convicted of attacking Muslim family in London, Ont.


A sentencing hearing resumed Tuesday for Nathaniel Veltman, 23, who was convicted of murder in November by a Windsor, Ont. jury.

On June 6, 2021, Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah were all killed while their then nine-year-old son was seriously injured.

Veltman admitted to police he drove his pickup truck into the family while they waited to cross the street at Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road in London.

After an 11-week trial and deliberating for less than a day, the jury of 12 people handed Veltman four convictions for first-degree murder and one conviction for attempted murder.

The first-degree murder convictions carry mandatory sentences of life in prison – to be served concurrently – and Veltman cannot apply for parole for 25 years. The judge must now decide what the sentence should be for the attempted murder conviction and whether Veltman’s actions are terrorist activity.

“The evidence is overwhelming in terms of the aggravating facts,” federal prosecutor Sarah Shaikh told the judge Tuesday in opening her arguments on sentencing.

Shaikh – and the three other prosecutors on the case – are asking Justice Renee Pomerance for a sentence of life in prison on the attempted murder charge.

A Crown attorney not tied to this case told CTV News the typical range of sentencing requests is much less: between five and nine years.

“The offender is a mass murderer, and this was a well thought out, highly planned attack formulated over three months that the offender justified in writing in advance. It was designed to send a strong message and the offender tried very hard to kill all five members of the Afzaal family by pressing the accelerator at 100 per cent and aiming directly towards them,” Shaikh said, who added it was “only by luck” the boy wasn’t killed.

The prosecutors argue Veltman’s actions are terrorism based on:

  • The recording of the 9-1-1 call on June 6, 2021 when Veltman is heard admitting to his actions
  • His confessions to police that he hit the family because of the clothes they were wearing, which indicated to him they were Muslim
  • His actions after being arrested; as Veltman surrendered to police he was enraged when the 9-1-1 didn’t record a video to be released to the public
  • His personal manifesto called ‘A White Awakening’ is riddled with white nationalist beliefs and hatred for nearly every other segment of society

"His views are deeply engrained in his psyche. He's angry about the decline of the white race," Shaikh said Tuesday. “He had a problem with feminism. He had a problem with LGBTQ community. He had a problem with Jewish people. He had a problem with Black people.”

The prosecutors argue Veltman acted on those beliefs on June 6 2021, and used them to “instill fear” in and force Muslim people to leave.

"His views are hateful and it’s difficult to accept that someone would hold those views," Shaikh said. "But those views are coherent and logical to the offender and those like him."


Defence disputes terrorism allegation

Defence lawyer Christopher Hicks told the judge a finding of fact on terrorism would be “speculation and conjecture.”

“The jury was convinced this was at least planned and deliberate,” Hicks said Tuesday afternoon, and argued Veltman’s actions are not terrorism. “The jury believed Nathaniel Veltman formed the intent to kill.”

Jurors could either decide the actions were planned and deliberate or they were an act of terrorism.

The court does not know and cannot ask what each juror decided.

In his manifesto, Hicks said Veltman was “simply working through his thoughts in a document, not shared by him, it was never disseminated, he composed it entirely on his own” and also characterized it as someone who was “venting” about their frustrations.

At one point he called the manifesto “tolerant” and that it was mostly an anti-Semitic document and not directed at Muslims.

The judge and Crown took offence with that description of the manifesto.


Defence seeks sentence of 10 years

“My friend's submission is vengeance,” Hicks told the judge. “You can’t use the death of four people for a boot strap argument for a life sentence on attempted murder.”

Hicks also argued a fifth life sentence – while concurrent – would be punishing Veltman twice for a single act.

He asked the judge to consider a sentence of 10 years in prison, to run concurrently to the four life sentences on the first-degree murder convictions.

While characterizing the 70 victim impact statements heard earlier in January as “touching” and “striking,” Hicks asked the judge to give them very little consideration when considering the sentence for attempted murder.

Hicks told the court the fear members of the Muslim community felt in the days, weeks and months after the attack was an “unintended consequence” of his client’s actions.


Sentencing date set

Pomerance asked for time to consider her decision.

Veltman will be formally sentenced on Feb. 22. Top Stories

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